"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.
My daughter Kara’s arrival to this world was not a storybook birth. My wife, Ellen, couldn’t deliver her naturally. It turns out that Kara’s head was too big for the door that was provided. They probably wouldn’t have been able to bring her out that way even if it wasn’t, because as we learned later her heart was even bigger.
Ellen, so desperately wanting to see the birth of her first (and as it turned out) only child, asked for a spinal. Unfortunately, the drug didn’t take and they had to put her under. To make matters worse, when they opened up her womb Kara was barely alive. So, they wouldn’t allow me into the room either. Clinging to life she was quickly handed to the pediatricians who through skills that still fill me with thankfulness and amazement, saved her life. Due to all these unforeseen medical emergencies, neither Ellen nor I were able to see Kara come into this world. But she has made up for it by filling our lives with light every day since.
Don’t get me wrong. Like all children she has tested us, pushed us and drove us to the edge of insanity, on occasion. But those moments have only been bitter drops in the ocean of joy that has been her life with us. And through it all, from her anxious birth to this very moment, she has taught me more about the Father’s love for us than a library of books or a lifetime of seminary ever could.
First, let’s take her birth. I don’t recall a moment in my life when I was more proud, more filled with joy, than the first moment I saw her. And when I held her in my arms for the first time, I wouldn’t have believed I was capable of the love and tenderness that flowed out of me towards her.
When we brought her home, I don’t think she slept through the night for the first two years. I was exhausted and sleep-deprived, yet every night I (because that was the deal) got up and sang to her, danced with her and talked to her until she slipped into sleep. During this time I broke my wrist. The amount of pain that shot through my arm every time I picked her up was unbelievable. But it never occurred to me, even once, to just let her lie there and wail away in misery.
As she grew, I remember how proud I was of her at every small victory…from her first step to riding a bike. I also remember how my heart broke at her every disappointment. But how I cherished our time together: reading to her and watching her learn to read to me, laughing with her as we played all our silly games and the feeling of being the most privileged father in the world when she stretched her arms out to me to be picked up or chose my lap as her preferred seating for some Disney movie.
I have loved being her father. Some people say that men prefer sons: to play catch, pal around with, etc. I would not have traded my little girl for a busload of sons (but then again who would be crazy enough to do that).
So, how has all this taught me about my heavenly Father? I am a sinful, selfish and blundering fool when compared with God the Father. And yet, look at how I relate to my child. The amount of love I have for her is boundless. But it doesn’t even approach the amount of love the Father has for me. I gladly gave up sleep and endured pain to hold her when she cried. What has the Father been willing to give up and endure to comfort me? If I am proud of her for her victories, how much prouder is the Father of me?
If I weep at her disappointments how much more does the Father weep for me? And if my heart leaps when she wants to be with me, does not the Father’s heart leap all the more when I desire to be with Him? Oh, she has taught me a great deal about the Father…about His love, His patience and His forgiveness, His protectiveness and His Fatherhood.
I want the best for Kara. I want her to succeed, to be happy, to be free from harm and to become all she can become. Maybe you don’t believe that God is like that. Maybe you think that God is a punisher of wrongs…a Zeus-like character waiting to give you a good smack down when you mess up or hurl a few lightening bolts at your head when you step out of line. Or maybe you think of Him as uncaring, going about the business of the universe with nary a thought about you. I am here to tell you that He loves beyond measure, is patient beyond belief and desires more good for you than you could possibly imagine.
“How do you know?” you may ask. “My father wasn’t like that.” Yes, human fathers fail…mine did, maybe yours did, I know I certainly have. But God is a perfect God. He is the author and the essence of love. He was willing to sacrifice His most Precious so that He could have a relationship with you. I know because as imperfect as I am, I would do anything for my child. I know because He loves us. And I know because in my heart I believe:
That’s what a Father does!
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