I have to smile as I think back now to that infamous vacation that my dad took us on when I was 18 years old. At the time, the days fore-planned to be in New York seemed endless. Now I realize how quickly they actually passed.
As I contemplate those “horrible” days spent in the Red Apple, yet another story comes to mind.
Just as background, I was a university student at the time, and during my summer holidays, I knew I couldn’t afford to take a total break from my schooolwork. Truth be known, I hadn’t really wanted to leave on vacation at all, as I knew it would take me away from my studies. Because I knew how important this vacation was to my dad, however, I simply packed a few essential clothes in my suitcase, and filled up the rest with school work. The clothing I had taken was what I was used to wearing on the streets of my Belgian hometown: Dressy slacks, dress shirts and of course, neck ties. Little did I know, this isn’t how the ordinary tourist dressed in New York, even back in the early 1980s! My dad, on the other hand, apparently knew in advance what the typical tourist wore, for he packed casual clothing, topping off his attire with an authentic cowboy hat. He Therefore, wherever we went, he blended in with the crowds, while I, uncomfortably, stood out.
My father was also quiet an influencial business man. He prided himself in being seen as a wealthy businessman, and he flaunted his American Express credit card for all to see. He was used to being known as the head of our family unit. In fact, he was used to being known as the head of whatever he was engaged in at the moment. Whenever we went into a restaurant, he took pride in being presented with — and paying — the bill. Until this one particular day in New York City …
This particular evening, we had just finished eating at the restaurant affiliated with our 4-star hotel. When my dad called for the bill, I seriously doubt he would ever have forseen what would happen: The waiter brought the piece of paper, not to the casually- dressed one at the table, but to the one who was dressed up! He brought it to … me!
Naturally, I had no money on me, and I didn’t even own a credit card; but because I was dressed nicer than my dad was, the restaurant employee must have wrongly assumed that I was treating the others to a fancy — and a bit expensive — meal.
I expected my dad to be a bit put off by all of this and started to pas the bill to him; but the look on his face stopped me. He was smiling, and there was a look of utmost love — even pride — in his eyes, as he reached into his wallet and pulled out his credit card. “Here,” he said. “You go ahead and pay!”
My mouth fell open. It was so totally out of character for my dad to do something like this. He had never trusted me with his credit card before. This was definitely a first, and I didn’t even really know how to pay with a credit card! I had watched him many times, however, so I proceeded to do what he always did; and I was pretty happy — and proud of myself — when it all went off without a bobble.
As I handed the credit card back to my smiling dad, I could see tears in his eyes. He was proud of me for what I had done! Tears came to my eyes as well. My dad trusted me enough to allow me to use his credit card!
I have never forgotten this incident. To know that someone you admire actually trusts you is an incredibly powerful thing. It did wonders for my self-esteme, to say nothing of drawing me and my father much closer together. I’m afraid that when it came time to have kids of my own, I must not have always mirrored this particular action of my dad. How often didn’t I hear my teenage boys angrily call out, “You don’t trust me!” But the once or twice I did remember that incident in the New York restaurant and gave them some kind of responsibility, their eyes just shown with love and appreciation.
It makes me think about our relationship with our Heavenly Father as well. In the same way my dad didn’t need me to pay that restaurant bill, God doesn’t need us to be His hands and feet! He created the entire universe! In the twinkle of an eye, He can provide anything anyone needs. What would He have need of from us?
If this is true, however, why does He tell us things like, “feed My lambs” (John 21:15,16,17 NIV)? Why did He say, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)? Why did He instruct us: “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…” (Luke 14:13 ESV)?
Could it be that it is because God actually trusts us with His work?
Thinking back on the scene in the restaurant, I realize how loved and trusted it made me feel when my dad handed me his credit card. And taking this a step farther, I also realize how good it makes me feel when God hands me a responsibility, how good it makes me feel to realize that my God trusts me enough to ask me to feed His sheep, to ask me to make disciples, to ask me to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind! He trusts me enough to say, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing.” (John 14:12 NIV)
No, God doesn’t need us; but He realizes how much we need to know He trusts us. And just like my father was there to help me if I fumbled things up with that credit card, my Heavenly Father is also there with help for me if I need anything with the responsibilities He has given me!
Let’s show our children we love them and trust them. And let’s remember that God loves and trusts us even more. Thank you, dad, for this wonderful lesson. I will never forget it. And thank You to my Heavenly Daddy as well, for loving me enough to entrust His work to me!
In His love,
(To access the entire “New York, New York!” devotional series, please click here!)