For those of us who grew up in a Christian home, we were told that God is a loving Father. This imagery of God can bring incredible strength, comfort, and assurance, conjuring up wonderful memories of a loving, faithful, and steady presence in our lives. It reminds us of a daddy who was there for us, who carried us on his shoulders, rough housed with us in the living room, played with us at tea parties, and read stories to us before we went to bed. Our father’s faithful, loving actions gave us a strong sense of security, comfort, and protection. However, for others of us, our earthly fathers were far from loving. In fact, some of our dads were quite absent, choosing to devote more time and energy to their careers, hobbies, or sports teams rather than their families. Other fathers chose even darker paths of aggression, abuse, and abandonment. As a result of the failings, short-comings, and sins of our fathers, we are tempted to become angry, bitter, resentful, and hardened. These heart attitudes and wounds can destroy us and keep us from living a life that is not only whole, but one that is eternally transformed by genuine love.
We were created for love and for relationship, but it is impossible to live in the freedom that God offers when our hearts are poisoned and drowning in the darkness of hurt, rejection, fear, and abandonment. However, the blessed reality and hope is this: regardless of what we have experienced in life from the hands of our earthly fathers, we have a heavenly Father who loves us deeply and eternally. He is the fountain of life, and in His hands is the “balm of Gilead,” which brings genuine transformation and healing to our souls. Our heavenly Father desires to break through the hard shell of our hearts and transform us with His love. How does He do it? How can we experience His love? How can we allow the Holy Spirit to touch the dark places, the wounded memories, the shame, fear, or anger that many of us carry around? I want to share a story with you, trusting that the Holy Spirit will reveal how our heavenly Father brings genuine love to each of us so that we are truly transformed by His loving presence.
From the time of his birth, my first-born son, Samuel, had the wonderful daily habit of waking up early every morning, ready to eat and play. After giving him his bottle, I would lay him on a blanket with some of his favorite toys. He was so little that he couldn’t even crawl yet, so it was quite easy for me to multi-task while he played on the floor. I’ll never forget one morning as I was drinking my coffee and reading my Bible that I sensed the Lord telling me, “Look at your son.” As I watched him playing on the ground and straining to reach one of his toys, an amazing sense of joy, pride, and fatherly love overwhelmed me with emotion for my son. I began to cry uncontrollably with joy for the love I had for him. As I was crying, I felt the Lord ask me a simple question: “How much do you love your son?” My response came deep from within my soul: “I love him completely, wholly, and eternally! I would do anything for my son, because I love him so much.” As I pondered my answer to the Lord, savoring each tear of love and joy, the Lord then impressed upon me this next question: “If you, an imperfect, finite, broken father with numerous flaws and limitations, rejoice in and love your son this much, how much more do you think that I love and rejoice in you?”
The Lord’s question hit me like a ton of bricks. He overwhelmed me with His love in a new way. He opened my heart to receive more of His love so that He could continue to bring healing and wholeness to my own broken and hard heart. Oh, the deep love of our heavenly Father. May we experience His genuine love so that we can live a life that is wholly transformed by His presence.