The older I get, the smarter my father becomes

I was hiking recently in some woods when I came upon a father, mother, and their two boys. One was around two years old and was riding on his father’s shoulders. The other looked to be five or six years of age. 

When I walked up and said hello, the older boy immediately pointed into the trees and said proudly, “We just saw a bear!” 

This would be interesting and unanticipated news in an area that is completely bereft of bears, at least to my knowledge. It would also add a level of threat that could make future hikes a little more “interesting.” 

However, his father immediately interjected, “Actually, it was a deer.” 

His son, without missing a beat, then proclaimed to me, “We just saw a deer!” 

This was welcome news. 

Reflecting on our conversation, I was struck by how quickly the son changed his opinion to align with his father’s declaration. There was no hesitation on his part at all. If his father said it was a deer, it was a deer. End of story. 

I wondered how long this state of affairs would last. 

How much longer would the son accept his father’s word without question? Typically, the older we get, the less we trust our parents’ advice or wisdom. This is, in part, a good thing as we develop personal autonomy and become less dependent on our parents to guide our lives. 

Of course, the Bible clearly teaches children to “obey your parents in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1) and to “honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). I am reminded of Tim Russert’s observation, “The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get.” 

My interest in this blog, however, has less to do with our fathers than with our Father. While maturing and autonomy are proportionally related in human terms, they are inversely related in spiritual terms. 

In other words, the older we get, the more we need our Father’s counsel and guidance. A twenty-four-year-old can sin in ways that a four-year-old cannot imagine. The older we get, the more consequential our decisions become. As a result, we need our Father’s wisdom even more as we age. 

Unfortunately, the more autonomous we become as humans, the more tempted we are by autonomy in our spiritual lives. Satan’s perennial temptation is to “be like god” (Genesis 3:5), to exercise our “will to power” by claiming kingship over our destinies. 

This is a temptation we must resist daily. Every time we come to a decision, we should pray for our Father’s guidance and submit to his word and will. Every time. One false step often leads to another, and before long we are prodigals in the “far country.” 

The safest place to be is the center of God’s will. 

There’s an old saying: “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” 

A better saying would be, “God said it and that settles it whether I believe it or not.” 

If your Father says there is a deer in the woods, there is a deer in the woods. 

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