Over this past weekend, I was starting to gather and pack some things for Australia (which I leave for in just THREE days!) and in the process of doing that, this random picture fell out from a book onto the floor. I picked it up and just fell to my knees because I knew the Lord was speaking to me in that moment.
We often hear that the love of our earthly father is just a little glimpse of the love the Lord God the Father has for us. Since people are sinners and constantly let us down, it is no surprise that often times, even parents fail to meet our expectations. I know this has certainly been the case for me.
Just after I was born, my parents decided to divorce. Although my mom has full custody of me, I was shuffled back and forth between hers and my dad's every weekend growing up. Both of my parents have more hurt and heartache then I will ever know; unfortunately, without knowing the transforming love of Christ, both have pursued various ways of dealing with hurts and struggles of life which have brought destruction to their lives and negatively effected mine as well.
As long as I can remember, my dad has struggled with alcoholism. As a result of this addiction, he has made many choices over the years that have left great wounds inside of me, yet I know he never would have made without being under the influence. As a result, I have very few memories with him growing up that bring a smile to my face. Rather, when I think of my dad, it is so easy for me to just think of all of the hurt that he has caused in my life. This just leads to so much bitterness, anger, resentment, hurt, disappointment, and unforgiveness on my part. Recently, loving my dad as Christ has been quite a challenge for me. I have been praying for the Lord to heal different areas of my heart and give me the strength to choose to forgive my dad again and again.
Convinced the Lord has not been hearing my desperate pleas, I have been walking around seeing my dad through my eyes, the eyes of a selfish sinner rather then the eyes of Christ. I am constantly reminded of his shortcomings lately: the way he lets me down, the way he leaves me when I need him, the way his sin has affected my life and continues to do so, the way he has never modeled a loving father to me. So much hurt. But what can you expect from a sinner not saved by the abounding grace of our Heavenly Father. Really, apart from Christ that is who I am too…a sick, nasty sinner.
But when I look at the man in this picture, all of this hurt, this bitterness and unforgiveness and disappointment I have for my dad…it just disappears because that is not who I see when I look into those eyes. I see a proud daddy. A daddy gazing into my baby eyes with a look of selfless love and pure joy. I see a daddy loving me the best he knows how. I see a daddy trying to be there in the midst of his own hurt and heartache. I see a daddy who so desperately wants to be loved himself, a daddy searching for something to fill that empty spot inside of him. I see a daddy in desperate need of a Father himself. When I look at this picture, I see my daddy like Jesus does.
And as much as I hurt because I feel he has failed to love me like a daddy should love his little girl, how much more must he be hurting because he does not know the unfathomable love His Daddy has for Him. It got me thinking, how much do I know the love of my Daddy? I mean, I have been so busy seeking the love and acceptance of my earthly dad for years now, which is something he may never be able to give me, but regardless I have a love that doesn’t even come close to touching a father’s love for his daughter. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me in a way my mind cannot understand.
And praise God this love is not conditional. I don’t have to be good enough…I don’t have to say all the right things…even when I mess up and fall short, He still just loves me!! He gave His one and only Son to die on a cross just for me to live in freedom…just for me! Not only does He love me, but He knows me! He knows every hair on my head. He knows my thoughts. He made me! He made me and yet He knows me. He created me, yet He desires intimate relationship with me. His love is MORE then enough to satisfy the emptiness that is still that little girl in me longing for the love of a Daddy.
There is a song that brings tears to my eyes every single time I hear it. It says, “I want to sit at your feet, drink from the cup in your hand, lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat. Your love is so deep, its more then I can stand, I melt in your peace, its overwhelming…” One time, I had someone tell me when they hear this song, they just remember laying on their daddy’s stomach as he would breathe up and down and just feeling so safe and protected and having this incredible picture of a father’s love through that memory. I don’t have any memories like that, but looking at this picture those words just play through my head again and again. And I LOVE that I get to do that with the Lord…just to sit at His feet, listen to His heart beat…lay back against Him and breathe…what a incredibly beautiful picture of fellowship with my Daddy!
Praise God for a Heavenly Father who loves me PERFECTLY. I think if I could really understand that, it would change everything. Lord, I want to know your love, the love you have lavished on me. The everlasting love you have for your little girl.