A Big Red Line

by | Apr 27, 2016 | Prayer Coach

Wow, there it was! I don’t think I ever remember really seeing it: a BIG RED LINE. I sat there stunned. There were several other red lines on the timeline that represented my life, but this one looked bigger. Did he mean to draw the line bigger, or had he just coincidentally turned the marker sideways resulting in a BIG RED LINE?  “This is big!” I thought.

My mind raced back to the first Leader’s Edge retreat over fifteen years ago. I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept in days. Preparing for this project sapped me. I failed to complete my preparations before I left to lead. My computer crashed and there was no way to finish in time.

I had to let it go and focus on the tasks of the retreat. I decided to begin my peer group meeting with a story about my early years on our first evening. I wanted to model transparency as I revealed some challenges I encountered along my journey.

I recounted an abbreviated version of my childhood story. I saw myself as a ten-year-old boy standing behind my dad as he worked on his ham radio. Dad could not be bothered when he was working on his ham radio.

“Dad,” I said, trying to be as non-invasive as possible. No answer. Minutes passed. Summoning a little more courage, I said, “Dad, the guys are going to the movie. Mom’s not here so I need your permission to go. I have my money for the ticket.”

No answer. After what seemed like an eternity, I gave up. He didn’t give me permission to go. That hurt, but what really hurt was the lack of recognition that I was even in the room.

Dad was a good man, a military man, a man of the Builder generation. My siblings and I worked to gain his recognition and approval, but were usually met with a rather stark admonition to work harder and longer.

Until that retreat 15 years ago, I was clueless about the impact my earthly father on my relationship with my heavenly Father. The tears of that reflection revealed the kind of spiritual life I was living. I was working to gain God’s approval. I longed to hear, “Well done!”

Over the remainder of the retreat, I read every passage in the Bible containing the word “father.”  I discovered so much!  As I talked with my heavenly Father, he said, “Jay, don’t compare our relationship with the relationship you had with your dad. Look at it through the lens of your relationship with your son!”

I love my son and I am proud of him. I tell him so all the time.

Remember the BIG RED LINE? That is where it lies in my personal timeline. Everything before that BIG RED LINE was about me living to earn God’s attention and approval. Everything since has been about me living because I am God’s loved son.


  1. What’s your story?
  2. What is the driving force behind the way you live?
  3. What keeps you from living the life of God’s dearly loved child??

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