Explain It To Me Like I’m A 2 Year Old….


I was getting something from a friend one day a months back…a stop along my busy day of real estate and business activities.  I was in my zone…getting things done in a “kicking ass and taking names” bulletproof kind of way.
My friend had chaos going on in her house…about 5 or 9 or 7 kids…not really sure how many, they were everywhere.  The little suckers moved pretty quick and they were getting into everything.  I can be a little ADD when someone talks to me and kids are going everywhere….my friend?  She had the whole “mom” thing down.  She’d be talking to me one second, telling someone to get down right in the middle of her sentence to me, and then right back into our conversation without missing a beat.  Me?  I was having trouble focusing on her and what was going on around me and whether she was talking to me or the kids half the time.
At one point, my friend had introduced me to all these kids…like I said, not sure how many…and…this little girl who was around 2 comes up and stands in front of me grinning ear to ear in one of those cute smiles that only a child can give to an adult.  I didn’t know what to do exactly, so I smile big and say “HI!” and her smile got a little more awesome.
And then Something unexpected happened.
I reached out my arms down to her in the universal little people’s language that means “do you want me to pick you up?”.  Her answer was the universal “yes, please!” as she reached up to me with glee, and I did.
And then something unexpected happened again.
When I brought her up and shifted her onto my arm.  She smiled at me and sat there for a quick second…and that’s when it happened.  She wrapped one arm around my back and one arm rested on my chest and then put her head against my chest and closed her eyes for a second.  It surprised me…it warmed my heart…it melted me…and part of the wall around my heart fell.
I have a bachelors life…it’s all I’ve ever had.  It’s filled with toys like cars and motorcycles…it’s filled with ‘fun’ and trips and freedoms.  It’s envious at times to many of my married friends.  What they don’t see is that there’s a caveat because it’s also sometimes filled with empty weekends, lonely nights, and a yearning for more.  More heart, more intimacy, more…just more of something else besides me.
When this little 2 year old did that…for a moment, just a moment, I had a child…a daughter who loved me unconditionally, called me daddy, and just for a moment I caught a glimpse of what my life was missing….and that ache, that unfinished part of my heart had a piece of what was missing.  For a moment, just a moment, that piece fit and my heart was filled with light and love.
For a moment, I was a dad.
For a moment I held a little girl that could have been my daughter.
..my friend looked at me and smiled….she saw it.
For a moment, I had a glimpse of another life, far from my bachelorhood…and it was good.
Part 2:
About 3 weeks later I was in Montana on a “New Frontier” retreat where we look hard at, and work through, what it means to walk in Son-ship,  an heir to the throne of God…as Ephesians 1 talks about how the father has chosen us to be adopted sons.
As a man, you’re built, you’re conditioned, and you’re forged to be strong and independent.  Emotions are bled out of you.  It’s a code that we learn to live by.
I am no exception to this.
As we looked at the prodigal son story, we worked through how our lives reflect the younger son…then the older son.  It’s normal and working through it is something that is not new.  You look at the first prodigal son, then you look at the other son and reflect on this.  Most Christians have done this many times.  However, what WAS different on this particular day was that we also looked at the actions and motivation for the third and often forgot about character in the story: the father.
We were working through the lavish, unselfish love, and mercy of the father and how He keeps reaching out and trying to bring the sons into relationship.  Getting a glimpse of this love of the father and his unending desire for the sons to be loved, be part of his joy, to understand the father wanted a relationship with the sons….several of the guys were moved by our study… but my heart was not…and I felt like I ‘didn’t get it’…and it troubled me a little.
I stuck around after everyone else had gone out to “calibrate” to try to get some help working through this.  After talking through it for a while with Ch and Je…I knew I was at am impasse and went for a walk alone to pray about it.
As I walked around the property, the interaction with the little girl kept playing over and over in my head.  Her reaching out to me, the way it touched my heart, her acceptance of me as safety….it all played over and over in my mind.   In playing that scenario like an interaction between us and God, it was easy for me to see myself as “God” reaching down to pick up his child.  To want to hold, comfort, and be ‘daddy’, right?  That’s ok, acceptable, and easy to mentally step into that role.
What is not so easy for me is to see the reverse.  It is not easy for me to see myself as the child, the helpless one.  The one that wants daddy, needs to be lifted up into His arms, and held.  It’s very very hard for me to lift my hands to the father and say “I want you to carry me” and “I need your comfort”.
The world teaches us and engrains in us independence and autonomy.  We learn phrases like “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me” and “it is what it is”…and that prayer is a last resort.  Men (in my opinion) are especially subject to a code, as I’ve said earlier, that we are steel, we are rock, unmovable, impenetrable, and that our facade must hold up in the business world as well as home.  This is not the image of a child reaching for ‘daddy’.
As I wrestled with this, I heard someone approaching me…it was one of the guys on the retreat.  As he made his way towards me, I’ll be honest, I started in another direction because I was afraid he was coming towards me.  His course then shifted to intersect mine.
My mind said “oh great”, and I didn’t mean it the good way.
It was P, and he walked up to me and said “God said for me to come over here and give you a hug”.
I’ll be honest…two things struck me.  First, the thoughts of the child and my interaction were not from me, they were from God and He wanted me to wrestle through it and I need to hear that voice when it speaks to me.
The second thing was that I didn’t want the hug.  I am too big, too strong, too independent to ‘need’ a hug from another man.  My “code” said that it was weakness.
…but I took the hug anyway, after all, God sent it.  Who was I to refuse?
Your dad wants you to know that He can carry you.
He can carry the weights that hang on you
He can carry your life
He can take your tears and hurts and….
You can rest there…this good Dad, this Father, offers this.
I learned something that day.
Some fathers reach down and learn something from their children.
Some children reach down and learn something from their Father.

“What are you doing here?”

Tony & forte

“What are you doing here?”
1 Kings 18.16-40

Elijah was one of the great prophets with more than a few dramatic stories of encounters with God and incredible miracles. In one such story, he has just had the most magnificent victory against false priests and prophets and was literally on top of the world. He had gone up single handedly against 850 ‘priests’ of the gods, and GOD showed up in a spectacularly miraculous way sending fire down to consume an offering. The people united behind him to clean house of the evil priests, and as a nation, put their faith in God.

It should have been evidence that God’s power was all over his life, and all about his protection, but just after this he was in a dark hole.

I don’t know what transpired in Elijah’s heart, but word of the queen who liked those now very dead priests got to him… she sent word she was going to kill him and fear took over him…
…and he ran.

This Fear is so overwhelming that he sprints into the wilderness to the point of exhaustion where he curls up under a tree and asks to die. God sends an angel that wakes him twice to give him food and water for his journey of 40 days and nights to get to the “mountain of God” where he goes into a cave and spends the night. He wakes in a cave to have God call him on the carpet.
The Lord comes to Elijah and says, “What are you doing here?”

1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV)
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I’m talking to a few people…not the masses…just a few of us this time.

When you were a child, did you ever break something and then hide, fearing for your life? Did you ever fear the consequences so much that you literally were beside yourself in fear? The adrenaline rushing through your tiny little body, crying, your heart beating so hard it hurts…and there’s this awful realization that it cannot be undone and the wrath that was sure to follow made you sick to your stomach.

Can you remember?

In full disclosure of my heart, sadness creeps through and a tear forms in my eye me as I remember..and I’m there. I’m 5 years old again and the fear grips my heart as though my very soul were trying to come out of my body and escape the torment.

I remember vividly the fear that gripped me…it shakes my core even now…and I’m there again.

I’m there…I am about 5 when I broke a favorite antique rocking chair

I’m there again when I am about 9 when Mark Mason and I were wrestling in the house my family was renting and we caved in a section of the hallway wall.

I’m there, waiting for the wrath that’s about to fall on me alone for my sins and, like Elijah, we are expecting an anger to come down on us like the wind to tear our limbs from our bodies in their rage and fury and throw our pieces to the four corners.
We are expecting an earthquake that will move the very foundations of our lives bringing everything crashing down.
We’re expecting burning fire and vengeance and wrath to sear and burn the skin from our flesh.

While the world is coming apart in tornados, earthquakes, and fire, Elijah retreats into the cave like we do…scared of the consequences, scared of the authority that we feel is about to take out vengeance on us, pour out wrath on us. As he’s waiting in dark place, something unexpected happens.

…a still small voice calls to him inside the cave,
“What are you doing here?”.

Elijah covers his face, and walks out to have a very real conversation with God who gently, but firmly, puts Elijah back on track.
We have places in our lives where everything comes apart….everything crashes around us. They may be our fault and direct consequences to our actions…or our inactions. The blame may be our fault or the fault of our actions with others. When Mark and I went through the wall, he ran home and I was left holding the bag and the full brunt of my father and the consequences of both our actions fell on me. (If I’m honest, I’m still a little bitter about that…but I would’ve done the same thing)
BUT, what I’m trying to say is…
The fear you had/have from your dad/mom/uncle/older brother/sibling/step parent/foster parent/boss/wife/husband is not the kind of fear that God wants you to have.

Like Elijah, YOU may be hiding in your cave right now, hiding from the consequences, hiding from truth, hiding from the calling that is on your life, hiding from the pain, hiding your gigantic faults and ugly addictions. You may be fearing what God will do to you, hiding deep from the light from the disaster that you’ve created, you’ve allowed…and the weight is tearing you apart right now.
You may be hiding emotionally from the mess you made last week, month, or 20 years ago…and God has given you time as the world raged it’s vengeance on your hiding place…


whether you are running or hiding like a child, God saw Elijah and provided for him in his running, provided for him at the point of death, just like He’s done for you.

In his hiding, God gave him rest and allowed for him to rest just long enough, just like He’s done for you.

And as you’re waiting for the hammer to fall like a scared child, you could realize that, like Elijah, God has not drawn you out of your cave with vengeance…because God was interested in restoring a relationship with Elijah…just like He’s interested in restoring you.

He’s not going to use earthquakes, fire, and tornados…He’s going to call out
in a

“What are you doing here?”

It’s a voice that loves you, has a plan for you, and wants to bring you back into a relationship.
Come out of your cave, it’s time.