As a child I knew that when I tried to hit my Dad as we were playing that I would get “something” in return. My brothers and I really enjoyed the game; often bargaining with dad for how many hits we would get to his “one”. The conversations have now spanned more than four decades and continue in the conversation with our children.
A key warning phrase is mandatory. “If you mess with the bull, you will get the horn”.
I know the warning and full knowledge of the promise wrapped inside of the words has never deterred me from giving things my best shot. In fact, the knowledge seemed to have heightened the expectation and thrill! I knew that Dad was engaged in the process. I understood that life came with causes and effects. Somehow I thought that my youth, excitement, and vigor (?) would win out over age, guile, and pure strength.
God promises that “the payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.” (Proverbs 22.4) Somehow, at least by my actions, it seems that I do not really believe this! I seemed to doubt that God is engaged. I wonder if He will honor his promises. Perhaps there is a flaw. Maybe something I do will change the equation and invoke some fine-print that I have yet to catch. Could it be a fairy-tale that just will not go away?
As I remember my younger days and now take on the role of the older, stronger, and hopefully wiser participant, I see things in a very different light. I know I have the strength to win at any time. I can see moves that will be made in advance. To a large extent I can control what is and will happen. The only question is – do I want to play?
Perhaps that is the question that haunts me with God. Does he really want to play with me? Is he really serious? Is this a game where he might walk away?
Like Dad, the answer comes with experience.