This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Geoff Grant, Northpoint’s Worship Director.
A Parent Grace
Pastor John asked me to write a little bit about my recent entrance onto the stage of fatherhood. Our son, August Jasper, was born about three weeks ago and so far he is healthy and happy. Praise God!
We feel really blessed to be close to our respective families in this season and even more so to have a body of believers like Northpoint walking alongside us as we take our first steps as parents. Chelsea and I were driving this past week and she said, “Isn’t our life crazy? Here we are living in Corona, a part of Northpoint again.”
Her point was, we could never have foreseen this.
We had no idea that leading music would be a way God uses us in the church. We could never have foreseen coming back to California to be a part of Northpoint again.
In the same way, we certainly had not planned on having a baby. In fact, this has been a really challenging reality for both Chelsea and me to come to terms with.
I don’t want to be misunderstood here; I am overwhelmingly grateful for little Augie and I love him so much. I want to give you a glimpse into my heart that you might be encouraged, not by me, but rather the Spirit—correcting me and forming me into Christ’s image, specifically in the area of becoming a father. The point of writing this is not to attempt edgy transparency or countercultural honesty, but rather to display my ugly heart, and more importantly, point to God’s grace toward that heart.
Friends, when I found out we were going to have a baby, I was not excited. I understand that sounds cold, heartless, even selfish, but it’s the truth.
For nine months I asked myself, “Is it okay to feel like this? What’s wrong with me? Everyone else seems so excited to have a baby, why don’t I feel like that?”
More than that, friends and family didn’t know how to respond when I’d confess this.
“Geoff, you’re having a baby! Are you just so excited?”
Awkward silence and puzzled nodding would follow my reply. In fact, eventually, I just fabricated a response more to people’s liking. I found that people mostly didn’t truly want to know how I felt, but rather wanted to share in the excitement they thought I would have.
Fabricated joy, however, did not work in my times of prayer. This last Sunday we read sections out of the 139th Psalm together. David talks so freely to God. He says,
“You have searched me and known me
You know when I sit down and when I rise up
You discern my thoughts from afar.”
David then brings the honesty of his heart before God. He says later in the psalm that he hates some people, and wants God to kill them. He then concludes the psalm saying again, “Search me and know me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Do you see that? David says, “God you already know my heart, so let me be honest with what’s in there. … Is that stuff okay? If not, identify those grievous ways, and lead me to walk with you.”
I experienced this in prayer during Chelsea’s pregnancy. Like David, God wanted me to bring the junk of my heart and lay it before him. God cared to hear the messy, sinful, selfish things. My temptation was to pray something like, “Just get all the bad stuff out so I can be excited.” Instead of, “Lord, this is what is going on in my heart, and it is in there. What are you teaching me in this? What does this tell me about my love for you? Would your Spirit walk with me in this?”
Friends, over the last nine months, I learned that God wants to have a conversation about the state of my heart. I was idolizing the fun and freedom that Chelsea and I have. I saw Augie as the end of that. I was holding onto the freedom I had with my time and when we found out we were pregnant, I was saddened to think now somebody else laid claim to that time.
God used my despondence to open my heart to him. This began a conversation, bringing to the surface idols I hold onto, ways I don’t trust him, and fears about being a father. Now I am praying the Holy Spirit walks with me in forming my capacity for fatherhood in the likeness of Christ.
God knows our thoughts and knows our desires. He knows our fears and our sin. By his grace through Christ’s sacrifice, we can bring our imperfection to him and be honest about what is in our hearts. When we are in Christ, we are filled with the Spirit, purifying us of the flesh that once ruled our hearts. Let’s cooperate with the Spirit’s work, for it is only he, not us, who renews us day by day, shaping us into the image of Christ.