Oh, How He Loves You and Me…

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

God is my Father. I know this. I have known this for a really long time. I’ve known it ever since I can remember, honestly. However, it is only recently that I have really come to know that He is my Father. More importantly, it is only in the last few months that I have come to really feel my Father’s love.

I’m reading The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, thanks to my buddy, Josh. I am only about forty pages in, but it is already speaking to me. One of the more poignant parts for me thus far has been the author’s discussion of the four bystanders in Rembrandt’s painting of the return of the lost son. During that discussion, he talks about how he himself had largely been a bystander, even while he was encouraging others to embrace the Father. Wow, can I relate to that… I have been a “leader” for a long time. It is part of who God made me to be. However, to this point, I have been a bystander trying to point others to an experience that I had not even gone through. I would speak of the Father’s love, but I did not get it personally. I was one of the bystanders, watching the son be embraced graciously and lovingly by the Father. I was content to watch without getting to close myself. I was content to know about God’s love and point others to it but not really feel it and let it impact me.

Last fall, I went through a Wounded Heart session at Valleybrook (our church). A typical Wounded Heart night would begin with worship through music, testimonies and teaching. Then, we would break into small groups to walk deeper into the healing process. During one of our worship times, I found myself unable to sing. We sang a couple of songs that focused on how God loves us, one of them being “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan. I just couldn’t sing them. When it came down to it, I didn’t believe what I was being asked to sing. I didn’t really believe that God loved me. Now, this is for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I have always felt like God’s love was conditional, depending on my performance.

During our small group meeting that night, I shared with my guys how I couldn’t sing those songs. I think part of me expected them to give me kudos for being honest and not singing something I didn’t really believe. While honesty was always appreciated in that group, I was surprised to be confronted by a couple of the guys and encouraged to sing the songs anyway. And, their encouragement was right on. They wanted me to sing the songs because they are true, regardless of how I feel about them. So, the next week, I did that.

During that same period of a few days, God also showed me how I had let the imperfections of my earthly father taint how I saw my heavenly Father. I had elevated my earthly Dad to a spot that he could not live up to, and in fact he was not meant to live up to. Of course, my Dad is imperfect! And God is my perfect Father, without flaw and bounding in love. Through making myself sing those songs and realizing that God is my perfect Father, something clicked in me. I cannot explain it other than to say that I could honestly feel God’s love for the first time. I could honestly see Him as my Father for the first time. Life has not been the same since. Now, on a daily basis, God sends me little reminders that He loves me. I have had days in which I have listened to “How He Loves” several times in a row, because the truth in that song now affects me very deeply.

I’ve gotten that God is Creator for a long time. I’ve known Him as Sovereign, as Savior and so many other aspects of who He is. But I can honestly say that knowing Him in these ways has not compared to knowing Him as my loving Father, who is always worthy of trust and is always looking out for me. Just like the prodigal son coming home to his father, I can always find home, safety and provision in Him. I am no longer a bystander, keeping God at a distance. I gladly accept His embrace.

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