Saturday, June 18, 2011

For God So Loved the World

Happy Father’s Day!

You know I don’t think anyone can truly be ready to be a father. You can read books, attend classes, perhaps be lucky enough to have a great role model in your own father but nothing can truly prepare you for that moment when you hold your baby and “POOF!”

Congratulations – you are a father. Try not to look so scared – the baby is watching.

There are lots of outward changes that people can see. The car seats in the minivan instead of the cool sports car; the nights with the boys replaced with the nights with “the boy.” Changing diapers instead of changing channels. The lines under your eyes are still there but now it’s because the baby had a tough night of crying. You still have a great sound system in the car but now you are playing “Bear in the Big Blue House”…and singing along.

But the bigger change is inside. And people aren’t always able to see that. How can you begin to describe the love that you feel for your child that you barely know? That you don’t miss that previous life because you don’t really remember it? That was another life – lived by someone else. Before fatherhood.

And it takes a while, but then you start to get it. You start to understand a little more about not only what it means to be a father but also about your parents, your own father, and also your heavenly father.

Why would the creator of heaven and earth care about me? With so much going on, why is he interested in my life and hearing about my troubles? How can he keep forgiving me and giving me another chance when I just keep messing up?

For me, it took fatherhood for me to start to see. Our heavenly father cares about us because we are his children.

It took being a father before I understood that I wanted to hear about the things that happened in my children’s day. The things that they learned and thought were cool. The things that made them happy and that made them sad. That as much as they messed up, I wanted to give them another chance so they could get it right. Sure they made mistakes and made me mad sometimes but I knew they were just children and were learning. And I wanted not just to be a part of their lives but for them to be part of my life.

Because I loved them not because of anything they did but just because they were my children.

And as imperfect as I am, for me to understand that, how much greater is God’s love for us because his love is perfect.

And so it is especially appropriate that on this Father’s Day that this week’s reading is from John 3:16-18.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

This reading is fundamental to our Christian faith; no matter if you are Catholic or Protestant because it sums up what Christians believe.

And it is uniquely Christian. When you look at the other major religions in the world, no one else believes this. Not the Jewish faith, Islam, Buddhists, - no one but the Christians. It is what makes us Christian.

And it tells us everything we need to know about our relationship with our heavenly father. That He loves us so much, despite our terrible sins and shortcomings that he sent his only son into the world to suffer and die in order to save it.

To save us.

It’s still up to us. We still have free will and can choose to believe or not believe. To change our lives or not.

But for me, it is comforting to know that our heavenly father does love us so much. He is not a distant god that established the world and then left us to run it. He is not an autocrat that only insists that we follow his commands and laws.

He is our father who wants to be a part of our lives and wants the best for us.
No matter our background, or shortcomings, or any of the things that matter to the material world around us. Because it doesn't matter to Him. He just loves us for being us! Because we are His children and we are perfect in His eyes.

He loves us just because we are his children. And we can do better in our lives because He loves us. God’s love can change lives for the better. It does for millions of people every day and it can for us too! And that is a comforting thought!

Happy Father’s Day!

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