Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Father's Love

I recently made my way through Elyse Fitzpatrick's book Give Them Grace and read this quote:

"The knowledge of God's Father-love is the first and simplest, but also the last and highest lesson in the school of prayer." Andrew Murray

As I contemplated God's love as compared to a father's love I began to struggle a bit. I understand that an earthly father's love for his children will always be imperfect even when poured out in the most lavish of ways. I know that the best father on earth is a mere shadow of the perfection of our heavenly Father's love for us.

However, in my attempt to grasp this kind of love I reviewed in my mind my growing up years. I quickly reminded myself of the countless ways I did not experience love from my father. I rehearsed the difficulties, challenges and resentment of growing up in a home that lacked love and affection. I recounted the long years of estrangement with my father, and in that moment I asked God to show me how I could get a glimpse of His love.

It was then that my heart was moved to recall all the times my father reached out to me while we were estranged. My hardened and hurt heart was closed off, not receptive. Despite my unwillingness to open my heart again, my father pursued me. Letters and cards never stopped coming. I would open them, read them and then tuck them away - and they kept coming. His kindness to me and his love for me made it possible to reconcile. I might even say that those loving actions all those years warmed my heart and compelled my response of love, forgiveness and repentance. In those moments that morning, God showed me His relentless pursuit, His kindness and love, and His faithfulness in the midst of my faithlessness.

It was not His cold, distant, conditional love that wooed my heart - rather it was His warm, near, unconditional never giving up love for me that won my heart.

I have always believed that my experience with my earthly father could never reveal to me the love of my Heavenly Father - I was wrong. My childhood was not perfect, a far cry from perfect actually. But, today I can thank my earthly father (who passed away five years ago) for pursuing me unconditionally, even when I wanted to run the other way.

God demonstrated His perfect love for me through the imperfections of my earthly father. I believe that's called redemption.

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