09 April 2011

A Father's Great Love

This past week I had the opportunity to stay with my in-laws.  Recovering from surgery, my father-in-law was able to stay with me during the day while his wife was at work.  Besides learning more about the family that has adopted me as their own, I have received a clearer picture of God's love.  I had known this love once when I was younger, but my memory of it hid when I lost my dad and grandpa, for they had once displayed this love to me also.

Sunday night was my first night in the house.  It was a long night without Matthew (he had gone to stay with his friend in Sacramento while starting work at U C Davis and searching for a place for us to call home) but I slept okay eventually.  The next morning I awoke in cheerful spirits and good health.  Bruce asked if I would care to join him for a walk that morning.  Having nothing else to occupy me that day and glancing out the window at the incredible spring day, I said yes.  We drove in near silence as I gazed curiously at the busy streets of a sleepy little town.  I had forgotten that Bruce prefers loose dirt under his boots rather than the hard concrete stuff, so it was a long but pleasant drive out to BLM land. 

Once there, all conversation ceased as we were overwhelmed with the intense beauty all around us.  Here, a family of toads hopped across a tiny stream. There, a squirrel chased another up a tall tree.  Various birds sang old choruses of the beautiful day and geese bravely guarded their nests as we walked past.  Eventually I became aware that my father-in-law was still walking with me but had said few words only to point out the trail and points of interest in the area as we began; then, further in, silence. At first, being the girl I am, used to mindless chatter, I was agitated by the silence of conversation; then I became intrigued.  Gently, my dear Heavenly Father began to speak to my heart.   They were words of life and as soothing and melodious to my soul as the red-winged blackbird's song.

There is no need for words, my child, 
when one already knows the heart.

Of course! How could I have forgotten? What great joy and peace did this gracious reminder bring to my burdened, weary soul!  Over the past four and a half years, Bruce and I have had many conversations as we got to know each other.  But there comes a point in a good relationship when words are no longer necessary to express the intentions of the heart.  In the midst of the silence, his presence affirmed what I already knew in my heart - that I was loved and treasured as a precious daughter ... just as I was. And that I was safe and provided for and not alone nor lost on this path on which I was led! Rather than reaffirming these truths with words, he allowed me the pleasure of enjoying this beautiful piece of creation with him.  It was not a request for a long walk of conversation, but "come, let me show you this treasure I have found so we can enjoy it together."  

Is this not also the season I have come to with the Lord? This depth of understanding the heart where words are no longer necessary? At first I was greatly distressed by the silence of heaven and I soon became just as silent and continually scorned myself for it.  But God's gracious love is so immense, that He broke through the silence to affirm His love and concern and to say "let's enjoy together this life I have made for you."  No longer must I plead with him for hours for my requests or to express heartache or gratitude.  He is with me and knows my heart just as I know His.  We speak only to remind eachother and to reaffirm the love that we share.  

To know that she is loved is the very core of a girl's desires.  But in this world love is so frequently twisted and too often torn from its different components.  It is not just a feeling of value and appreciation or of kind and concerned thoughts toward another, but it is also a promise of protection and provision.  When the Lord began to reveal this mystery of how His Love is represented in a father's love for his child, a whole new world of understanding was opened up to me to understand both the love of my in-laws and of my Heavenly Father. 

The next instance of the revelation of this mystery was at Perkos' Restaurant.  Perkos' being the best milkshake makers in the whole world and the ravenous hunger created by our adventure in BLM land, it was the obvious next stop of our day. I did not realize that a simple sharing of a meal could lead to a much fuller understanding of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:9-11... 

"You parents - if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?  Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will Your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him?"

 As we walked into the restaurant, I realized I didn't bring my purse on this walk and was immediately concerned that Bruce would have to pay for my meal.  I was quickly and firmly rebuked by the gentle words of my Father:

How insulted would he be
if you refused him his right
to bless you?

I have been most fully adopted into this family just as I have been adopted into God's family - through the love of the son.  I have seen how my father-in-law loves each of his daughter-in-laws as if they were his own flesh and blood.  He would lay his life down for them and sees clearly that while they are in his care, it is his responsibility and privilege to provide for them not only their needs, but also their wants. 

A Father's great joy is to find treasures to gift to his children.  A trinket, a toy, picture or book is a pleasure to give to a child.  But a meal is such a basic gift that we discard it as an obvious necessity.  What father would deny his hungry child food if he was able? None!  Indeed, he sees it as his role and responsibility to daily provide for the child in his home.  The child need not ask - it is just provided.  But occasionally the child's hunger is unnoticed or beyond what is normally given, so they ask the Source of their provision for the supply.  Could it ever be denied them? Certainly not!  And beyond that, would not the father feel shame that the child felt the need to ask?  Would he not quickly supply in abundance all the child desired? Of course!  So why do we ask our Father with such trepidation? 

The relationship Jesus describes in this passage is a healthy one.  The child does not ask for a single piece or crumb of bread like a beggar or a dog, but asks for his rightful portion - a loaf.  When have I asked God for a loaf of bread?  Have I not been content to ask for only a slice of bread and a small portion of fish?  Is my appetite small or my pride great? 

Oh what joy and great miracle it would be if I could fully comprehend and live out these truths! How gracious is my God that he would place me in a loving family so quickly after loosing my own that it may continually be demonstrated the love of a father towards his children that I might learn to accept the unspoken love, protection and provision of my Father.

Thank you Matthew for bringing me into your family.
Thank you Bruce for accepting me as your own daughter.
Thank you Jesus for loving me and Your Father enough to lay down your own life to bring me into Your family that I might learn to live as a daughter of the King. 


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