On this Friday of the Second Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.
When I was a plebe at the Naval Academy, one of the fundamental lessons beaten into our skulls involved how to respond to a superior.
Crusty Upperclassman: “What are your Five Basic Responses, maggot?!”
Sloven Plebe: “Sir/Ma’am! The Five Basic Responses are:
- “Yes, Sir/Ma’am“
- “No, Sir/Ma’am“
- “No excuse, Sir/Ma’am“
- “I’ll find out, Sir/Ma’am“
- “Aye Aye, Sir/Ma’am“
The purpose of this training, as I understand it, was to wean us of our childish instincts to hem, haw, excuse or otherwise prevaricate. But it also taught us the proper demeanor when addressing those of higher authority. To this day, I still find myself giving deference to superiors with curt, to-the-point answers.
The Five Basic Responses have served me well in subordinate/superior relations. One response I did not see among the Five, however, was laughter. Yet Abraham and Sarah both laughed at God! They didn’t chuckle, but burst out in laughter at God’s promise to make them fruitful in their ripe old age. Abraham laughed directly at God, falling to the ground in laughter!
If I were to laugh at a senior officer, needless to say my career would be brief. How did God respond to Abraham and Sarah’s “insubordination”? He kept His promise and delivered the Impossible.
What does this tell me about my relationship with God, about His Covenant? It tells me that He doesn’t seek a relationship in the form of subordinate/superior. He wants me to draw closer to Him as Father, to feel comfortable to laugh with Him, cry to Him, and even complain. Yes, complain!
Did you know that, of the 150 Psalms, approximate 65 contain complaints. That’s almost half! And these were written by David, a Man After God’s Own Heart! If I want to be After God’s Own Heart, I need to draw closer to His heart.
God wants me to give myself completely to Him, in my anger, sorrows, fears and anxieties. And when faced with an impossible situation, He wants me to turn to Him in complete trust.
Sometimes, when faced with the Impossible, it’s easy to just give up and forget to go to God in prayer. “What’s the use?!”