As a little girl (and only child girl) I used to force my dad to sit and have tea parties with me. I would set the table with little cups and plates, and at the miniature table and chairs, my big, grown-up dad would have to sit (pinkies up) and play pretend tea party with me. Of course, there was no “real tea” or “real crumpets”, but he was content to play along because he knew it brought joy to my heart.
We would have pretend conversation (which to me at the time was oh so real), and if I was feeling particularly creative, I would start fixing my dad’s hair with bows and clips (I mean because honestly, he had to look the part.)
I’m sure this scene is not unfamiliar to a lot of little girls with their dads or mom’s. But not until I was much older, and in much different circumstances did I understand that this scene is also not unfamiliar to the way my heavenly Father decides to condescend to me as His child.
I was 24 and heartbroken. The relationship I had built and invested in was over. It was irreparable and I was devastated. It was a month since the break-up and my heart was in so much turmoil. Letting go has never been my strong suit, and honestly I didn’t want to (which is probably half the battle).
As I was praying in my heart to God, I asked God to give me a particular sign if things were to turn around for us. I kept going about what I was doing that day and as I walked outside, I saw my sign. A beautiful expression of an answered prayer from a God who always hears our cries.
This answer from heaven released my heart in a way I had never experienced before. It was as though a thousand pounds of burden was lifted from my heart and soul and I could finally breathe again.
Now, the interesting and ironic part to this story is that–this promise, didn’t come to fruition. Strange, I know. But wait? God doesn’t give promises or signs that He doesn’t intend on fulfilling. Yes, I know. I believe that as well. However, in this experience I discovered a side to my heavenly Father that I had only previously understood in my earthly one.
Just like my dad would sit there, bows in his hair, drinking fake tea and having made up conversation, my heavenly Father gave me the only word that He knew would set my soul free. He wasn’t tricking me, or misleading me, He was being kind to me.
His kindness saw my need in that moment and knew the only way to meet that need was, in so many words, to play pretend. He knew that I would discover as time went on that the relationship was never meant for me, just like I discovered when I grew up that tea time with dad when I was four never included real tea or cookies.
Our heavenly Father has unique and surprising ways of meeting our needs, and answering our cries for help and guidance. I mean think of the story of God wrestling with Jacob in the Bible. They wrestled “all night long until the break of day.” Really? C’mon! God could have ended that wrestling match in one second!
But couldn’t we say that God was “playing along”, because He wanted to wrestle it out with Jacob until his natural strength gave out and He surrendered his life to God?
Yes, God does give promises that He intends to fulfill, and I have experienced those as well. But, let’s not forget that God is our Father, and He knows how to love us best, in ways that may surprise us.