“Rooaaar!” Alfie threw up his hands in mock horror as Aedan, complete in giraffe mask, roared at him. A short while earlier, Alfie and Archie had been doing the rounds, roaring at all and sundry from within their giraffe masks. We were at the first of the “Who let the Dads out?” a monthly Saturday meeting for Dads (& Granddads) with their five years and under children. For some reason, giraffe masks became de rigour, even though there was a wide variety available. The idea of giraffes roaring was a little surreal, reminding me of the picture in the last book of the bible, Revelation, where Jesus, represented as the sacrificial lamb who died for our sins, is engaged in the final judgement of sin and opposition to God, leading to the apparently oxymoronic phrase ‘the wrath of the lamb’. Anyway, these giraffes were coloured blue or green, so presumably lived by their own rules.
What was fascinating was the almost industrial production line set up by the boys: I think the original idea was for a boy to sit with his Dad and make the mask, from start to finish, but the boys had other ideas. Having persuaded one male to cut out the mask, they persuaded a second to thread the elastic that held it on, and then a third to colour it in according to their colour scheme. As the first male thought he had finished, having cut out the mask, he found himself commissioned with a second and then third mask. As the masks came off the ‘production line’, the boys collected them to play with, joining the others already equipped with masks. They achieved this so very simply: they asked in expectation. The Dads involved just responded to their request and expectation, and the boys had their masks, coloured to choice.
At a previous Messy Church, a similar situation arose, involving the same boys and a few others. We were making a ‘snap bang’ out of a sheet of paper, a sort of origami, to illustrate the theme (God had spoken to Paul with a voice that sounded like Thunder, so these were the ‘thunder’). One of the boys tried to make a paper dart, but ineffectually. As the table was quiet, I showed him how to fold the paper to make the dart fly. He was delighted – and followed by another, and then Aedan, each asking for a dart. They weren’t really interested in how to make it, just to possess a dart, which by now were being flown competitively. I became a one-man production line, turning out darts, with my potential dart owner standing supervising: “Did you want to colour it?” “No, just put my name on it!” The darts were for flying. Two girls arrived to claim darts, but these were lovingly coloured. Before long, Aedan ran back, dart in hand, “I need another one for Alfie.” I dutifully complied – Alfie didn’t like to ask, so he sent Aedan, who simply asked, confidently and in expectation, and carried Alfie’s dart back to him. I’m not sure how they fitted into the theme (Wind, a symbol of the Holy Spirit?!), but the children had great fun with their impromptu air display.
It’s surprising how many times Jesus tells us to come to God our Father in exactly the same way: just ask, in expectation and confidence. After telling a story about a man who met his friend’s urgent need only because he persisted in asking, Jesus goes on to say in contrast our relationship with God should be “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened.” (The Bible, Luke 11.9). Drawing on fathers giving good gifts to their sons, he added, “If you then … know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11.13) Later on, Jesus encourages his followers “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14.13-14) Or to put it simply: just ask!
Of course, there are restrictions: when one of the small boys asked for the sharp scissors, I refused – for his safety and those around him. The limit is always ‘in my name’ and ‘to his glory’, but nonetheless, ‘just ask’ is overlooked as the way to approach our loving heavenly Father. We often seem to live with a view that He is parsimonious, stingy with his blessings, reluctant to open His hand, but Jesus encourages us ‘just ask!’.
Praying that in your needs and troubles, you may have confidence to approach the loving Father through the Son who sacrificially gave himself and as he tells us, ‘just ask’.
Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,