1Corinthians 8:6- For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
If you have been honored to be called Father or Mother, then you know how the love for your children never stops, in fact it starts from day one. From the moment you see your children, a small helpless human, you immediately feel immense, overwhelming love for them. They do nothing to earn this, they are far from deserving of love based on their works. Children, especially when they are young, are completely dependent on their parents for most of their first few years of life and leading up to adulthood.
I thank God He has given me the opportunity to be a father, through this I can more fully understand His relationship to us as our Heavenly Father. God loves us more than we can even love ourchildren, because God IS love, he is the fully realized version of the love we feel for them. God always loves us even though He may not be pleased with us at a given moment. Just like God, we always love our children even though they can and will make decisions that we are not pleased with, that go against their upbringing, and ultimately showcase their ability to make free-will decisions. Similarly, God has given us the model by which to live in His Word, the Bible. We grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) when we sin and exercise the free-will He gave us to go against Him and His plan for us.
How do you feel when you are “grieved” by your children? When they rebel, when they seem to do everything against what you taught them? I know as a parent, when I discipline my children, I want nothing more than for them to say sorry, toTRULY mean they are sorry, and to learn from the situation as to hopefully not do it again. I still love them in that moment, I want what is best for them, I want them to recognize my authority and humble themselves in forgiveness. This does not always happen though. Think of when you grieve God, you sin, you rebel against Him, against what you know is right. When we sin we feel the furthest from God, but that is the moment that He simply wants us to repent, to ask for forgiveness, and learn from our mistakes. In our pride, it is easy to not want to admit we are wrong and further distance ourselves from reconciliation. It can be a viscous cycle of sin. When we sin we feel far from God and know that we should turn to him, however because we feel far from Him we do not pray, do not ask for forgiveness, do not read the Bible, and thus the cycle of sin starts again. What can break this cycle?
The best example Jesus gave us of this is the story of the Prodigal son (Luke15:11-32). God will let us make our mistakes, he will let us run; he does not force himself on us which would negate our ability to exercise our free will. Would you want to force your children to love you? It would be a lot easier wouldn’t it? Complete compliance and obedience to the rules, 100% love and affection at all times… and yet that would be fake, false, at which point you might as well have a robot child as a replacement. The moments when our children tell us they love us, not because of any prompting, but out of pure emotion, is what we live for as parents. When our children say they are sorry and follow in obedience is also when we are most pleased with them. God is the loving Father with open arms, waiting for us to return to him when we have fallen away, wanting us to spend time, quality time, with Him and worship him out of love and adoration for His Lordship, because of WHO He is and NOT what He has done for us. God pursues us, letting us know He is there, but never in a condemning way to make us feel ashamed and guilty. That feeling comes on our own when we realize we have sinned and fallen short of God’s will for our lives. Jesus will call out our sin as He did to the woman caught in adultery when He told her He did not condemn her but to “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). There has to be repentance, there has to be a surrendering of our will to His as we run back to Him, His open arms cover us, and we feel love like we have never felt before.
Discerning Reflection: How can I please my Heavenly Father with my actions? What do I do that is displeasing to Him and what do I need to repent of? How can I love my children more like the example God gives us?
Prayer: Lord, help me see you as the loving Father from the examples you gave us. Help me let go of my pride and sin so that I can be free from that burden and turn to you. I want to be an example to those around me of the loving relationship you want from your people. Amen.