I remember the day my oldest daughter Jessica entered this world. The Doctor dutifully announced her arrival and shortly after, her tiny cries filled the delivery room. At that moment, her wails of disapproval were the most beautiful sounds I had ever heard. With awe, David and I welcomed her into our lives and she captivated our hearts. There was no question about it! We had given birth to the most beautiful baby ever created. Looking back this makes me laugh because Jess was the typical newborn- blotchy, cheesy, with a very malformed head and swollen face. BUT, she was ours and in our opinion, she was perfect. Shortly after her grand entrance, both sets of grandparents busted through the delivery room door, eager to meet their granddaughter. As they passed her around, I remember hearing David’s mom exclaim “She has David’s nose!” Even in my exhausted and drug-induced state, I immediately felt a twinge of irritation. Yes, I was completely aware that this little life shared our DNA, but something inside me wanted to see, and hear others to acknowledge, my likeness in her tiny purple form.
If you are a parent, you understand that longing to see your likeness and the sense of pride your child(children) brought you when you caught glimpses of yourself in their face. For the past two days, I have been immersed in a book, “God Has A Name,” by John Mark Comer. As he expounds on Exodus 34:4-7, describing the life-transforming truth of God’s character and nature found in His name Yahweh, he asked a question. “Can you imagine how God feels about His Children?” This question brought me back to that hospital room almost eighteen years ago. The joy, excitement, pride, utter awe I felt when I held my daughter is indescribable. I loved her then (and now), with a love I had never experienced before. For seventeen years, I have positioned myself to move heaven and earth to care for, protect, and provide for her every need. I have sacrificed sleep, food, personal wants, and needs (including hygiene those first few weeks), goals, and even dreams, in order to care for, provide, teach, and prepare her for her own journey and life story. Even today, as I look into the face of the beautiful seventeen-year-old woman, racing out the door on her way to work, my heart swells. She is my daughter! I gave birth to her!! How did I get such a precious gift?!?! (Also, how did we manage to keep her and the other two alive??)
Within the limits of my earthly brain, I understand Comer’s question and the importance of asking it, not simply within the context of my children Jess, Mollie, and Owen. My Father feels the same way about my husband, sister, parents, friends….. He feels the same about them as I do my own children, but then a gazillion timed more!! As often as I can, I let my children know, no matter what they do (good or bad), what they accomplish (noteworthy or embarrasing), or who they become (professional dog walker or president)…. I will always love them. There is no sin, no screw-up, no failure, no length of prodigal living that can diminish, to any degree, my love for them. They may cause great sorrow and break my heart, but they are mine, and I will love them unconditionally (Never condoning, excusing, accepting, or enabling sin). But then there is the Love of our Father towards HIS children! A Love that abounds, overflows, and is poured out with unlimited, “Compassion & Grace.” Comer’s point was to allow our limited comprehension of God’s love for His Children to challenge, define, inform, and empower us to love others, be they spouses, children, friends, enemies, those who have hurt us, and even the mildly (or majorly) irritating people in our lives. All BECAUSE, they-are-HIS-children and HE is the Ultimate, ON Steroids, Don’t Mess With this Papa bear’s kid…… kinda daddy…. A Daddy who NEVER– gets it wrong, never misses a fall, never fails to see, never fails to respond, never lacks the resource. A papa who never lacks authority, power, and ability to intervene and come to the rescue of his kid!!!! Immediately after reading this, my thoughts were ouch! What have I done!!… duck for cover!!!…. repent !!!!
If the above truth strikes a twinge of fear into your heart (and it should) as you consider all the relationships you have with all the children of The Father of Heaven – husband, parents, children, siblings, co-workers, churchgoers….. the quarrels, fights, disagreements, public slander, private musings….the thoughtless offenses and outright blatant sins you have committed against His children, let this next thought bring comfort. (after you repent of course)
As I grieved over this realization and with embarrassment and shame began to talk to my Daddy and ask for forgiveness, MY Abba, Daddy In heaven reminded me “I gave and YOU a name too Jody, you are equally mine! (Isaiah 43:1) In the margin of my book, I scribbled, “I am never a disappointment to God! There will never be even a moment in time where God can not, does not, or will not look upon me, his faltering and struggling daughter, and not be moved with compassion. His graciousness, in light of my failures and imperfections, will never cause him to hesitate to come to my aid, encompass me with His presence, and forgive me of my sins and failures.” WOW!! He looks at me the same way I gazed upon my newborn daughter! He looks at me with equal measures of pride and compassion. Because of the blood of his son, I am forever and eternally His! Do you struggle to wrap your head around this truth like I do? The insecure, often made fun of, never quite fit in, never chosen, never enough, always felt like a mistake little girl inside of me struggles to understand…believe, accept this truth.. I am the wife who got irritated at her husband, the mamma who snapped at her children, the drover who got angry and barked at the driver in front of her going 15 mines under the speed limit, and I struggle with this reality….this gift. How can he look down upon me and beam with pride and glance over at the angles and exclaim “Thats my daughter!!!”
Think back to a time when your kid did something so amazingly fantastic that your heart swelled with a pride you could actually feel deep inside your heart. A time where you pulled out your phone to share a photo with a firend or posted a video of them doing their thing on the internet for all of the world to see……… This is how God your Fathert feels about you! Let your heart and mind settle on this thought until it breaks you, sucks the very breath out of your lungs, ignites hope and joy where frustration, guilt, and shame used to reside….. And then go climb up into His lap and tell him about your day.