By Tony Coppola
So, my oldest daughter turned 18 this week. Her mom invited a few of her best friends to join us and asked me to prepare a prayer for the occasion.
I’m not sure why, but these kinds of requests bring on uncontrollable physiological responses that make me want to avoid the whole thing. My stomach churns and fills with butterflies. I’ve learned, though, to shake it off as best I can and embrace the opportunity to seek the Lord in the matter.
I always feel like these situations open the door to a performance rather than a sincere, spirit filled encounter with God. I’m reminded of the admonition to not be like the hypocrites who puff themselves up to look better than others. To look more holy than others. To show everyone THEY are the good person in the crowd.
I don’t want to be that person. I want a real encounter with God. A burning bush encounter. A Jacob’s ladder encounter. A woman at the well encounter. Even a doubting encounter similar to that of Thomas, putting my hand in His wounds.
For those of you who have also been blessed with God speaking directly through your heart and into your soul, you know what I mean. The gift is a mystery. I am a wretched human, undeserving. And yet He loves me with no condition other than me saying “yes.”
If you are not a believer and still reading, there’s a very good chance you think I’m nuts. I know the feeling. I had those very same head-shaking thoughts. But also like you, I kept an accepting open-mind and painstakingly listened. “Good for you,” I said. “Weak minded,” I thought.
So anyhow, I headed outside for my daily chores and started taking notes on my phone as thoughts came to mind. What is it I want most for my daughter?
There’s a good possibility she will go away to college in the fall. She’s actually moving in with her grandmother to help take care of her very soon. Her grandmother has dementia and has been rapidly declining this last year. We want her to be able to stay in her own home for as long as possible. It’s where she has her best moments.
So many thoughts swirled in my mind throughout the day. But as I sat down later in silence to look over my notes and gather my thoughts I noticed a common theme: Love God the Father.
The movie of our life with my daughter reeled in my mind. Back, all the way back to the events in our life that brought the miracle of Sarah. Had our boys not gone to be with the Lord we wouldn’t have Sarah. Had we listened to the doctors and took their advice over what God had put on our hearts, we wouldn’t have Sarah. Had we not said that simple “yes” on that one day we would not have Sarah.
Love God the Father has been the greatest desire of our family. And even through the many trials we’ve faced since saying “yes,” it has been the only way we have found peace on Earth.
My prayer is that we all, even my non believing friends, would find it joyful to say “yes” and Love God the Father.
It’s the only way I know how to truly and authentically love people.