Please read this. Don't be put off by my family talk. God's in here too.
For Father's Day this year I received two of the greatest gifts of my life. My boys, David, age six, and Daniel, age four gave me two wallets made out of construction paper and glue. Inside these wallets were make-believe ID cards, credit cards, and pretend money. I was excited to see the effort that they had put into making these gifts for me, but nothing could have prepared me for what I found written on the 'dollars', as they called them.
On each of the pretend 'dollars' there was a value written, not in dollars and cents, but in favors. Now I had heard of these coupon books, and had given them to and received them from my wife, Magaly, age 26 (shhh, don't tell). But there was something different about these 'dollars'. Instead of containing favors for me, they contained favors for my two sons who had given me the 'present'.
My first reaction of course was laughter. They did not know that they were supposed to do something for me for Father's Day, not the other way around. My second reaction though (student of Piperian theology and christian hedonism that I am), was joy. My kids had just given me JOY.
I say this not because I was laughing at their ignorance in gift-giving, but because of the emotion that I felt then and continue to feel even now as I think about. If they had given me anything else it would not have been as great as this gift. In this gift they showed me that they enjoy me. They love to be body-slammed on the bed by me, they enjoy bedtime stories read by me (I don't do that enough), and they want to share their joy of catching fireflies with me. In short they want to be around me. As I realized this I was filled with joy.
I remember I was the same way with my father, and still am. When we are together (he's twelve hours away) I want just to be around him, talk to him, enjoy him.
Through their gift I think I have come to a little deeper understanding of the 'God-shaped void' the Augustine spoke of. I didn't know that I wanted a relationship with my Father Creator until He called me. I had tried many things, religion, friendships, books, collections, etc. to fill that void, but when He called I answered and experienced some of the same emotions that I did with my own father. I want to be near Him, listen as He speaks through Scripture, respond to Him, enjoy Him. As I fellowship with Him he fills my 'void'.
There are some who are now thinking, "What's up with this touchy-feely emotional wacko?" I too am skeptical of emotions and do not base my life own emotion alone, but I do recognize emotion as a God-given sense by which we can recognize certain things, and that sometimes these emotions seemingly disappear. But they are real nonetheless. I don't feel saved sometimes. My feelings one way or the other do not change the fact that I am saved. I know that. But sometimes I do feel saved. My point is, I don't feel joy in God all the time, but I do desire Him. Sometimes God and I don't get along, but deep down I know that He is my God and I need Him. In the end I repent, but I can never stop longing for Him. I still have the 'God-shaped void' and He continues, and will continue, to fill it.
Now excuse me as I go bodyslam the kids on the bed.