Posts Tagged ‘fatherless’


Do either of these statements describe the way you see God’s love for you?

1. God loves me, but (or as long as) _______.

2. God loves me, period.

Is God’s love for us something we control by our actions or behavior? Is his love contingent on what we do or don’t do?

In the biblical parable of the Prodigal son, Jesus tells us the story of a young man who thoroughly insulted his father by asking for his inheritance or “death benefit” early and leaving home to do as he pleased—to go hog wild, so to speak. After he partied all of his inheritance away, he found himself destitute and starving. He came to his senses and realized he’d been a wretched fool and his only hope for survival was to return to his father and beg to be made a slave. But as he neared his father’s estate, his father saw him from a distance and ran to meet him, embraced and kissed him, overjoyed at his son’s return.

Was the father’s love for his son based on the condition that the son return to him? Or did he love him all along?

I wonder if some of us see God’s love as conditional, based our actions, strivings, and obedience to him. I wonder if some of us need to see that God’s love is not like human love; it is not capricious or waning like that of humans. He doesn’t give the silent treatment when insulted or hold an offense over our head. His love does not tire like a discontented mate and send him in search of someone new.

I have often despaired of ever being good or pleasing enough. I struggle with the constant challenge to do better, to be better, to try harder. Yet I fail. I am inherently flawed and prone to mistakes. I can only follow Christ and serve him with his help, and even then I fall short of my aims.

But . . . then I read the story of the prodigal son and am reminded this represents the Father heart of God. Jesus paints a very touching picture of a father’s love, and more importantly, our heavenly Father’s love. I am so moved by this story, straight from the mouth of Jesus himself, which describes the holy, righteous God of the universe as an incredibly loving father.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not moved by the fact that the son got away with reckless sin and was forgiven without question, as though I were looking for a way to justify or excuse sinfulness. I am just awed and touched by picture of the Father’s steadfast love. The father didn’t lift his chin and turn to his friends and say, “Well. At least he’s back where he belongs, that takes a load off my mind. Lucky for him he came to his senses. But he has proven himself a disappointment and won’t soon forget what he did, I can guarantee that.”

No. He celebrated his son’s return to him. Wholeheartedly, with exuberant joy. He was so moved to emotion that he ran, breaking cultural codes of propriety. He not only ran, he embraced his son and kissed him. Couldn’t contain his joy at his son’s return. Unreservedly expressed his love before his son had a chance to speak a word of remorse for his sin. Showed lavish grace and forgiveness without another word about what the son had done.

I wonder if those of us who grew up either fatherless or with dads who were unloving or abusive have a particular need to be reminded of the “Father heart” of God. I am not suggesting that we should ever forget that he is also God of the universe, the absolute holy, righteous judge. But those of us who have lived under the thumb of someone who rules by cruelty and intimidation may have a harder time understanding how so good and loving a father can be at the same time so exacting in his judgment and so thoroughly demanding of holiness. It’s simply who God is (and more than can be addressed in a blog post.)

We must do our best to keep in mind the big picture perspective of all that God is, and not pick and choose our favorite attributes. He is fierce both in his love and his holiness. His love is everlasting—to those who fear him. (Psalm 103:17) Not fear him in the same way I once feared a stepdad’s return home from work every day, but a reverence for him in all his righteousness and holiness. AND his love. Embrace the total truth of who God is and allow Him to embrace you in return.

And don’t forget: he is running to embrace you long before you’ve even arrived.

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This is me and my movie-starlet mom (about 1967). Note the matching jackets. And my grubby little knees, typical. Not sure where this was taken, probably at the Oregon coast. My dad took the shot. I don’t remember him much, because soon after this, he left.

Those big brown eyes seem alert and a little wary. Wonder what I was thinking. Maybe I sensed this would be one of the last times I’d see my dad for more than a decade. Maybe I could foresee what my life would be like without a dad to love, protect, and encourage me.

No, that little kid had no clue. She would have to find out about the fatherless life the hard way.

Growing up, I often wished my dad would come back and rescue me from the torment of the day. One night when I was about 8, after being banished to my room all day by an ever-angry stepdad, I wrote, “Help me, Daddy!” in the window condensation. I even wrote it backwards so he could read it if he happened by. Which wasn’t likely since he lived in another country. But, star pupil that I was, I still clung to such hopes.

I was a sensitive kid, though no one knew it, including me. That tendency to be easily wounded created a tough protective shell, which didn’t make me any less sensitive; it just allowed me to tramp through life bleeding without anyone ever knowing it.

I could go on and on (fill a book, no doubt) about how empty, ugly, and unlovable I felt growing up, make a long list of all the factors that had aligned just right and drove insecurity and erroneous self-talk deep into every part of me.

But I won’t. (Not today, anyway . . .)

The rescue I longed for never came. Not the kind I’d been imagining, anyway. It would be decades before I realized I’d had a Rescuer all along. He’d been there with me many times. I just hadn’t seen him or taken hold of his outstretched hand.

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Genesis 28:15-16

Have you ever wished someone would love you so much they could never, ever leave you? That’s not to say I haven’t been blessed with an incredibly devoted, loving husband and the miracle of nearly 29 years together, in spite of my junky baggage and many painful mistakes. But humans are not wired to provide the kind of undying love and approval we crave.

And yet, The Hero of all heroes, the God of the Universe, stood within arms’ reach all along, ready to lavish me with his relentless, undying love. If only I’d known!

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19

It took decades, even long after giving my life to Jesus, to begin to grasp how much God loves me in spite of my flaws and mistakes. His grace, forgiveness and patience blows me away. Sometimes I’m struck with awe and gratitude for all that God has done and continues to do in and for me. I’m still discovering the depth and height and width and length of his love for me. He’s the only one who can love us so unconditionally without wavering. He gave his only Son for me, gave what was most precious, paid the highest, most costly price for ME. Will he then leave me? Split on me to go live in another country without a backward glance? Pull away and turn his back on me when I’ve screwed up one time too many? I need never fear being abandoned.

And neither do you.

The LORD himself (The God of the Universe!) goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

I wish I could go back and spend some time with that wide-eyed little girl on the beach. There are so many things I long to tell her. Too many to list here. But if there’s one thing I’d tell my young self, it’s this:

Camille, God adores you so much he paid the utmost highest price for you! You are his precious prize! He thinks you’re beautiful because he made you, and even when you’re not beautiful and make mistakes and break his heart, he will still love you!  He will love you forever and ever and will never, ever leave you.

Question, friend: If you could go back and visit little you, what would you say?

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