(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on April 5, 2019. You can find it here.)
There are many qualities about God’s character I find deeply comforting: His omni-ness (omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent), His justice, His mercy, His wisdom, His patience, His faithfulness. On and on it goes. These attributes and a thousand more draw my heart to the throne with a profound sense of wonder.
But I keep forgetting He’s a dad—a really, really good one. Which means there’s a new characteristic I need to add to my list of what I love about this fascinating God the angels never tire of extolling.
Are you ready for it? The divine (and communicable) attribute of silliness.*
This is the man who comes in from a long day of meetings, scoops up his son, and makes epic airplane noises running around the backyard barefoot before he even removes his tie. The daddy who’s not checking his watch at the third tea party this week with his daughter and her stuffed animals because he’s genuinely enjoying the fun they’re having together.
God is not too busy to father us. There will always be deep problems in the world, and He’s mighty enough to deal with them. In fact, He has dealt with them in the most sacrificial and irrefutable way, ripping out the fangs of hell and issuing the enemy a death sentence. Yes, He can handle our tears; they are so precious to Him that He bottles each one with care. But He can handle our laughter just as much as our pain.
In the story of the prodigal son, the father runs to his returning child. While Americans often miss this detail and yawn, the original audience grew wide-eyed at the silliness here. Good Jewish men didn’t run.* How improper! How unrespectable! What would the neighbors think? That daddy didn’t care an ounce about any of that. His boy was homeward bound, and he would risk so much more than reputation to hold that child again.
I think I’ve become more careful of God’s dignity than He is, and it has stifled how much affection I can accept from Him.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” Discomfort with God’s silly side impacts my ability to loosen up and really grow. I’m so busy building a ministry that I miss opportunities to build forts with God—no schedule, no pressure to impress. It’s as if my needing to prove how capable I am is crippling how mature I can become. How many chances have I passed up to be loved on by my Abba because of convincing myself I’m too cool for that now (and that He’s too cool to want to)?
It’s not an insult to the Lord to ask Him to get down on the floor with us and color. The church problems will still be there when we’re finished, and maybe playing with our Dad will move our hearts into a healthier space to deal with them—not on our own steam but as loved children, depending on the God who’s secure enough to be silly.
*While the literal definition of silliness doesn’t apply to God, this was the closest term to the lighthearted, playful lack of self-consciousness the Lord exhibits with His kids I could find. “Joy” somehow seemed too serious.