Lynn and I had decided to meet on campus during a break between her classes.
I noticed something,” she said. “When you talk about God, a lot of times you use two different analogies. Either you give examples about a father and his children, or you talk about a husband and wife.”
“Do I?” I said with a smile. “I suppose I do.”
“In fact,” she went on, “when you talk about our relationship with God, you use marriage to give examples. But when you talk about his relationship with us, you use a father and his kids as an example.”
“To tell the truth,” I said, “I never realized I was that specific.”
“Oh yeah, you are,” Lynn said.
Lynn’s observation made me very happy. She had prayed to receive the Messiah only a week earlier. And if nothing else, I now knew from her remarks that she had listened very closely as I had sought to explain some basics about her new relationship with God.
“So tell me something,” I prompted. “What qualities does each of those relationships bring to mind?”
She thought a moment. “Well, when I think of a husband and wife, I think of compromise, you know? I mean you can talk things over and come to an agreement. But with a parent, a father….” Her eyes squinted a bit. “You know, parents ultimately just tell you how it is, and you have to take it at that.”
She stopped long enough to weigh whether there was anything more she wanted to add. “I guess that’s it,” she said. “So why do you talk about God like he’s a husband and a father?”
“Because he is,” I said.
“Which?” she asked.
“Both. And more. He’s also a brother. And he even calls us friends. Confusing?”
She nodded as a half-laugh escaped from her lips. “Yeah.”
“That’s the nice thing about relationships,” I said. “You have the rest of your life to work on them and even to figure them out.”
We talked a bit more that afternoon. Lynn scrutinized my every word as I told her that the hallmark of a good marriage is not compromise, but intimacy.
“The closeness that God wants with each of us,” I explained, “is like the intimacy the best marriage relationship is supposed to establish.”
“There’s still compromise in a marriage,” she insisted, “but not with a parent. When parents tell you what they want, they expect obedience.”
“And so does God,” I said. “The nice thing is, God really is in the right. And what he expects and requires of us is always right for us and always for our good.”
“Can’t we ever discuss it with him?” she asked.
I couldn’t help smiling. “Absolutely. God wants us to grow in our understanding of his ways. You know, nowhere does the Bible say, ‘Believe and be stupid.’ Jesus said, ‘Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you… (Luke 11:9).
Lynn’s break between classes was nearly over, so we decided to talk more another time. Before she left I asked how I might pray for her.
“Pray that I’ll understand more,” she said.
“Do you want to understand?” I asked.
“Yes, I really do,” she said.
“I have it on good authority that God will not withold that kind of understanding from you any more than…”
“Any more than a father would withhold something good from his children, yes?”
“Yes!” I responded.
I was encouraged to see this new believer’s spiritual progress. It is even more encouraging to remember that God the heavenly Husband is ever faithful to the church, his bride, and that as our heavenly Father, his desire is only for the good of his children.
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.