Andy Denen

Ideas on life, church, and culture.

Bingo, Trees with No Leaves, and Trust

Yesterday Ethan was playing a bingo game my mother-in-law got him. There are these 6 boards, each with 9 tiles. Each of the 6 boards has a different theme: Seasons, Colors, Animals, Food, etc… He was pulling tiles from the bag and placed them on the appropriate space. He had assigned a board to each person in the room. Ethan was the food one, Ellie was the animal one, my wife was the Seasons one, and so on and so on.

He would pull a tile, put it down and when one of the boards filled up he would scream, “Mommy won!” and then he’d keep pulling until he filled another board and then he would say, “Grandma won!” And he just kept going until every tile was down and everybody had “won.” It was cute and funny. Of course, because my kids are super cute and really funny. I know, I’m a little biased.

At one point he didn’t know what a tile said, it was a tree with no leaves and it was for the “Seasons” board. It said, “Winter.” He couldn’t read the word so he showed me the tile and said, “What’s this say daddy?”

Simple. Casual. He didn’t seem concerned at all that I wouldn’t know. I don’t think it ever crossed his mind that I wouldn’t know the answer to his question. He was confident. He had my attention, he asked a question. He knew I’d know the answer.

I need to more like Ethan.

I forget that about God sometimes. I forget He knows everything. I forget He knows how I feel. I forget He knows what He’s doing. I forget to go to Him confidently with all my questions, doubts, and fears. I forget.

I’m not perfect. I screw up. A lot. As a husband, father, and leader I have a responsibility to my family and to those I lead and to those I serve to point to Jesus and sometimes I forget. But even when I forget, God is faithful. Which means He is more loyal to me than I am to Him.

His faithfulness to me is not contingent on my ability to listen and obey. His loyalty to me is not based on how much I pray, or how often I remember to go to Him with everything. His loyalty to me is based on His character and His promise to never leave me or forsake me (Deut. 31:6).

My response to God should be like that of Ethan’s to me. Confidence. Trust. Faith. My son isn’t worried whether or not I’ll feed him. He knows he doesn’t have to earn the clothes on his back. We’ve got that covered. God enjoys giving us the joys and desires of our hearts. He isn’t dangling His promises as bait to get us to act a certain way. He already loves us as much as possible. He is asking us to respond in a way that honors him. I forget that sometimes.

I try to do things myself. I try to work hard to show others I’m faithful. God doesn’t need that from me. He needs me trust His promises and respond.

Trust and respond. That’s it.

I’m flawed. Quite frankly, I’m a mess sometimes. But my brokenness is the mosaic through which God’s grace can shine bright. And in that, there’s beauty.

Whoever you are. Whatever you’re doing. Stop for a minute. Take a breath. God is faithful to you. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to prove anything to Him. You can’t earn it. It’s already there. He loves you.

Our faithfulness should not be to earn anything, but rather it should be a response to what He’s already done for us. Here’s what’s amazing, when we are faithful we unlock even more promises. The depth and beauty of our engagement with Him reaches levels we couldn’t have imagined.

You are loved.



More to come..

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