It’s Always Father’s Day

When I came across the following entry while reading some of my journal from earlier this year, I knew it needed to be posted here.  Yes, Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and this was from Father’s Day.  When you read this, I think you’ll have to admit, however, that it’s always Father’s Day.

I have been thinking so horizontally regarding Father’s Day as I’ve readied myself for this special time with You this morning – thinking of Tom, of Brendan (and Angie), of Adam (and Sarah) – along with all manner of totally unrelated items.  But, as I wrote “Father’s Day” at the beginning of this entry, my heart / thought / senses opened wide with the wonder of the vertical – my Abba, heavenly Father!  

Despite having taken me so long to think of Him related to Father’s Day, there is a strong sense of His warm and loving smile covering me through all those other thoughts – not just when I finally made the connection.  What a perfect Daddy You are!

photo by Daniela Corno
photo by Daniela Corno

You just love being a Father, don’t You?  As much as I loved being Mom (and still do), and now have the amazing blessing of being Nana, what I feel as I think of those children and grandchildren is only a minute portion of what You feel for Your children.  You truly delight in us – always.  You love watching us play and work and sleep and enjoy people, places, things.  You really do.  

You see the end from the beginning, so all our missteps and failings don’t cause You to fret or grimace or be embarrassed by us.  No, You delight in us because Jesus already received our just punishment for every one of those things.  When You see us, You only see Jesus’ finished work.  You see us as we don’t yet see ourselves – completely free, completely whole, completely righteous, completely loved.  

What an amazing and wonderful Abba Daddy You are.

Just the Facts, Ma’am?

Hebrews 13:5 NIV   . . . because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Haven’t I heard this forever?  Haven’t I said it over and over again – to myself and to others?  Only now am I beginning to grasp the fullness of the promise in these few words.  Only now do I sense the power in my Daddy’s words to me – and to you.  Of all things, it was the line, “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts,” from the old Dragnet TV show that opened my eyes wider.

This line was used on the show by the investigators when questioning some emotional female following a crime.  Predictably, she would provide way more information about people, events, and feelings than was needed, and the professionals had to corral her ramblings by calling for just the facts.

This phrase came back to me in prayer, and I saw this as a major ploy of our enemy.  He pushes believers in Christ Jesus to focus on and speak about only the facts of our current situation.  The tougher the situation, the easier it is to do.  Let’s face it.  Some of the facts can be pretty overpowering and all-consuming, whether it’s pain, disease, lack of money, heartache, overwhelming fear, broken relationships, etc.  The bigger the issue(s), and the more time they require in our day, the more likely we are to speak only the facts – those natural things we see, hear, and feel.

These are the times, however, it is absolutely vital to choose what God says instead.  It is Truth.  God and His Truth supersede any fact we will ever face.  For instance, the verse from Hebrews 13 is an all-encompassing promise from our Abba Daddy – good for any situation and circumstance we face.  Simply, He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  It’s not maybe and it’s not for someday.  It’s an ongoing promise for us who are in Christ.  Now.  And tomorrow.  And every tomorrow to come.

This promise is not given by a human who is prone to break promises.  This is from God: El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Shalom, Emmanuel . . .  He, the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent One, has declared (and He will not lie!) that He will never leave or forsake us.  Will all our troubles disappear when we understand?  No.  But the more we grasp His Truth – beyond all the natural facts – the less power the troubles wield in our lives.

It’s time for us to receive the simplicity and the fullness of our wonderful Father’s promise to us and to declare, “Just the Truth.  Just the Truth.”

The passage in the Amplified version brings out Daddy’s promise even more clearly.  Underlined portions are for emphasis.

Hebrews 13:5 AMP   Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]  [Josh 1:5.] 

Well-Pleasing

I saw it last night.  It had been there all my life, but I never saw beyond the surface.  Before I say more, let me tell you what led up to it.

At the end of another episode of Undercover Boss, the boss was emotional as he reflected on the people with whom he had worked.  The common thread was family, more specifically parents or parenting.  After having reached out financially to help those specific people and their families, he went on to say he hoped his father, dead for many years, would be proud of what he was doing.

That reminded me of another frequently watched show at our house – this one on the Food Network, Chopped.  Almost without fail, one of the four people vying for the title of Chopped Champion tells the judges they want to win to make a parent proud, or to prove they really have value, basically.  In so many cases, though, the ones they want to make proud are no longer alive.

This has always bothered me – whether the target of their efforts is dead or alive.  Oh, that they might know how accepted, approved, and loved they are if they are in Christ.  That nothing they can do will ever bring them that sought-after approval until they receive Christ and His amazing love and forgiveness.

In reality, people who have died will never approve or disapprove of what someone does.  The only approval that matters is the Lord’s, yet it’s not a matter of performance that merits this longed-for approval.  Because we never could do life perfectly, we’ve been given one simple requirement – believe in and receive the finished work of the One He sent, the only One in Whom He is well-pleased.  In the perfection of Jesus Christ alone we are approved – not because of what we do or don’t do, but because “This is My beloved Son.  In Him I am well-pleased.”1

As we discussed this apparently widespread emotional problem at a Bible study, I saw it.  While I have always known, without a doubt, that my earthly father loved and was proud of me – not based on anything I did, I never saw it as a reflection of Jesus until now.  I spent many years wishing he had raised me in the Lord and His Word so I’d have had a better foundation early-on.  All along, his life revealed the unconditional love of my heavenly Father towards me.  Other than eyes to see, what more did I need?

Now my memories reveal what always existed.  In the very early years, when Dad happily included me in his outings.  As I stepped into adulthood with my arm through his as he prepared to walk me down the aisle.  Even in the nursing home, as he beamed with pride and told anyone in the vicinity, “This is my daughter!”  It had nothing to do with what I did, and everything to do with my being his.  Accepted.  Approved.  Loved.  Without condition.

What an amazing glimpse into how my heavenly Daddy feels about me! It makes me shout with praise and thanksgiving to the One Who loves me so much that He adopted, approves of, and is well-pleased with me – in Christ – as He beams with pride and says, “That’s My daughter!”

1 Matthew 3:17, 17:5, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, 2 Peter 1:17

Of Dogs and Babies (not to be confused with Of Mice and Men)

The revelation of God’s amazing, unmerited, unconditional love just keeps coming, and in such different ways.  The latest one involves my great dog, Sandy, and my precious grandson, Colton.  (I wondered how I would ever work him into a post.) The two of them do no harm to one another; neither do they particularly appreciate the fact that the other exists.

After Colton spent the night with us recently, and had been returned to his parents, I resumed my normal morning quiet time routine in my comfortable chair.  Sandy joined me on his bed that is strategically placed next to my chair.  As I reached out to “love on” him, I explained to him how much I wish he understood our love for him.  I knew that if he did, he wouldn’t feel so insecure and in need of reassurance when Colton gets my attention.  That’s when it hit me that  Abba Daddy had just given another great illustration of His love for us.

1 John 4:18  NIV  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

What does fear have to do with it?  Insecurity comes from fear in any number of forms.  In Sandy’s case, I can be around others (even dogs), but not giving them affection, and he is fine.  Throw attention and affection into the mix, and he doesn’t think we love him so much any more.  The fact is, I have more than enough love to spread around.  Even though I might not show it physically at that moment, my love for Sandy hasn’t decreased in the slightest.  The problem is, I’ve never been able to convince him of that fact.

Are we the same way with our heavenly Father?  Do we work and strive to do things that will impress Him, to “prove” to Him that we love Him, trying to gain assurance that He loves us?  Do we feel the need to remind Him that we’re still here?  If so, we really don’t understand how great and unending is His love for us.

Romans 8:37-39 NIV  37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The fact of the matter is this: God’s love is perfect toward you, as that wonderful passage in 1 Corinthians 13 explains.*  You are as loved as you can ever be, even if you don’t feel it.  When you are in Christ Jesus, be assured that you will never, ever, ever, ever be separated from Him and His love for you.  You can bank on it and you can rest in it – forever!

* 1 Corinthians 13 needs to be read as God’s love to us, instead of how we are “supposed to” love others.  Once we grasp His love in this way for us, it will work through us to others.

Unfathomable!

How do you capture the vastness of the ocean in a picture?  How do you fathom the love Abba Daddy has for you?  I don’t think it’s possible.  But, as I listened to the Phillips, Craig, and Dean song, Amazed, I saw His love for me in a picture, though it still doesn’t compute in my brain.

I am me, in my human size, in the middle of the largest of our oceans.  This ocean is my Daddy’s love for me.  Then I listen to the bridge of the song, and realize the limitations of this picture.  Though I can’t begin to see the edge of an ocean if I’m in the middle of it, there are boundaries.  There is no boundary, no matter where I look, to Abba Daddy’s love for me.  And His love is that big and that limitless for you, too.

May we truly rest in His amazing love for us!