My parents were going on a holiday - without me - to Hong Kong for two whole weeks! I was fourteen years old and the prospect of their absence had both excited and terrified me. During the week I was billeted with a friend's family, and the weekends were spent at another family friend's home.
I remember the first week being quite exciting and full of new experiences; catching unknown buses to school each day and eating different meals than I was accustomed to, not to mention the fun of five school-night sleep overs in a row! They were good days, but by the beginning of the second week I was missing my parents terribly. The new routine had lost its glow and I missed the ease of being in my own home. Most of all, my heart ached to see my parents again; to joke with my dad about how he whistled through his nose when he ate his breakfast, to sit with mum before school in their big, soft bed and just chat, I even missed hearing mum's after school greeting of, "How was your day? Don't leave your bag there!" (How she knew from the kitchen that I was dropping my school bag in the middle of the lounge room was beyond me!). Yes, I longed for these things, but most of all I desperately wanted to hear, and reciprocate with, I love you.
I knew that my billets cared for me and they were wonderful at providing for my physical needs, but during this two weeks I realised the difference between being cared for, and the unconditional love a parent has for their child. I was not the billets' daughter, therefore their depth of love for me was knee deep. And this would never compare to the abundant ocean of love my parents felt for me. In them so much more than just my physical needs were met; they were my strength when I was weak and my comic relief when I was stressed. Mum listened to the cries of my heart when I was aching, and dad, not really sure of what to do, would make me a cup of hot Milo and just give me a reassuring squeeze on the way out of the room. They knew me, and what I needed, so much better than I knew me.
Now, some 20 years later, I am able to see some beautiful God-truths in this experience.
As our omnipresent-Father, God promises that he will always be with us. He's not here for a season and then off to some far-reaching corner of the universe on an extended vacation, billeting us out to another being with only knee-deep love for us,
So do not fear, for I am with you . . ." Isaiah 41:10 NIV
As our Creator-Father, God knows us intimately, far better than we know ourselves. Just like my mum knew me so well she anticipated the school bag dump, and my dad knew that getting me a Milo was, to me, love in action, our God knows both what we will do, and what we need before we do or ask for it,
You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:1-2 NIV
As our redeemer-Father, there is no other person or 'deity' that can give us what we need more than anything else - salvation from sin, and eternal life in relationship with him. Many religions will offer to meet all of our needs, but they are "knee-deep," empty promises. Only our Father's love is great enough to set us truly free, and it is because of his immeasurable love for us that he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on our behalf, that our relationship with him might be restored,
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10 NIV
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Father, thank you for your ever-present love for us. May we walk with you all the days of our lives and know that, no matter what may come, you are with us.
Thank you for your redeeming words of eternal life and freedom, delivered to us through your son, Jesus Christ.
And thank you father, for your provision for us; the physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment that you provide for us each and every day. Amen
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