Today the theme of the camp video was “Be Like Our Heavenly Father.” As might be imagined, the subject is one I have complicated feelings about that I will not repeat here as I have mused about elsewhere . What I would like to do instead is examine briefly some aspects of fatherhood, specifically the way that my life emulates the behavior of God the Father, as best as I am able in this short time and in my tired state. Perhaps it may be somewhat problematic for my thoughts to be inspired by a video that contained interviews and video footage of some of my younger friends, but such is the life, and I am willing to own up to the sources of any such writing as I do.
Before services today, I was encouraged by one of my young friends (who later got to hear me sing alto for next week’s special music) to volunteer as staff for Northwest Camp, which is heavily attended by the teens in my local congregation and in the region as a whole. There are a couple reasons why I declined, but some context is useful. About a year and a half ago, one of my teen friends encouraged me to involve myself with the teens in volleyball, and the end result has been a great deal of drama and complication, and hopefully enough instruction to make it worthwhile. I do not think a week in the zone followed by months of nasty and mistaken gossip about my character and behavior would be a fair trade. Sometimes it is not enough to be good, but one must look good and be above even the appearance of evil, and that is not an area at which I excel.
Anyone who reads books like Deuteronomy or Hosea, among others, will understand the passionate longing of God to have a relationship with Israel. Yet Israel was not willing. The power and intensity of God’s presence caused a response of fear, and as a result, God had to keep Himself distant to respect the sensitivities of Israel, as it is written in Exodus 20:18-21: ” Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.”
Sometimes being like our heavenly Father is not a matter of power or authority, but rather a matter of restraint, about withholding the sort of desire for relationship and intimacy with others that we might wish in order to respect even the irrational discomfort of others. Ultimately, if a relationship, be it a friendship or something else, is to succeed, it requires mutual consent, and sometimes we must restrain even legitimate longings and desires simply because the time, place, or opportunity to enjoy those is lacking. Sometimes people will fear us because they do not understand who we really are, and we have to hold back out of respect even to those who are mistaken, who behave irrationally, and who may even seek to harm our reputation and well-being. Sometimes being like God means having to take what one does not deserve, and restraining yourself from what you might enjoy doing simply because it could cause harm to one’s name sake or others one cares about. ‘Tis a pity ’tis so, but ’tis so.
 See, for example: