Last weekend I stayed with some good friends and their toddler. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up, and to talk about all kinds of things, including faith and following God.
But in the enjoyment of playing with their little girl, I was unexpectedly reminded of some things I’d forgotten about God.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. Galatians 3:26
The Bible often describes the father – child relationship that we can have with God through Jesus, and I’m so glad that he uses everyday human imagery to help us understand the reality of this deep truth!
My friends are great parents and throughout the weekend I got to see their love for their daughter, in their words and deeds. It was expressed in a multitude of ways – their enjoyment of time spent with her, their careful setting of loving boundaries, and their loving care even in the midst of the occasional toddler tantrum!
I was reminded that good parents mirror God’s fatherhood of us. He loves to spend time with us. He communicates his rules and boundaries to us, and they are for our good. When we want something that God hasn’t given us, we can rage and wail at him, but he will not give in to our wilfulness, nor leave us in it alone. He is gracious and patient, sometimes he explains his ways to us, and sometimes we must simply trust him and submit to his will as our God and Father.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9
Yet he lovingly holds us through our tantrums and doesn’t remove his love from us, though he may speak sternly to us or discipline us – an essential part of this love so that we might mature well, just like every parent wants for their child.
My friends were good at gently communicating to their little girl that she was not in control, and that it was a good thing for her that God had put mummy and daddy in charge. And again I was humbled and reminded of God’s authority over me, and my great need for him to be in control, even though I often seek to wrestle that control from him in my unbelief.
Most of all, as I witnessed this family go about daily life I was reminded of how fortunate I am in the love of my Father God. As the little girl shouted with joy when her Mum or Dad entered the room, because she was secure and certain in their love for her and loved them in return, so I can enjoy the joyful security of knowing my eternally loving Father, because of his abundant grace to me in Christ Jesus.
Whatever our experience of earthly parents, we are assured of the good and perfect fatherhood of God!
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands Isaiah 49:15-16
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