The Father’s Embrace

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5

These past four years I have been a caregiver and advocate for my father who has needed extensive care in a nursing facility. In the last few months his health had severely declined. About a month ago he passed away. A few weeks before he died, he began trusting in Jesus Christ and was baptized. All his life he had never believed in the origin of his existence; he had never believed in God. Thus far, it was the greatest joy of my life to be there at his bedside with my pastor as my dad squeezed my hand to indicate that he wanted forgiveness for sin and to trust and follow God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Each day following, he continued to confirm his trust and peace in Christ through conversations of hand squeezes. It is in this way that he said yes to be baptized. Years of prayers by myself and many others came to fruition in the last days of my dad’s life.

I rejoice that my father is seeing The Father in heaven, that the salvation of my dad is being celebrated in the glory of God’s radiance in heaven. Still, I miss him terribly. I miss his smile, how he would look at me, the way he used to laugh and the way he made me laugh. I miss his hugs, and I miss looking into his eyes. We have the same eyes. I look into the mirror and I see him. I carry my father with me. I am who I am in part because of him.

In his passing, I contemplate that I no longer have an earthly father, but I am not fatherless. The Father in heaven has never left me, he has never forsaken me, and it is that much clearer now in the absence of my earthly father that God is the one who sustains me, loves me, and carries me. I miss my earthly dad, he will not return to me, but one day I will go to where he is – with the Father in heaven.

Through the ups and downs of the last few months, I climb into the arms of my Heavenly Father and rest. I share my joys, and I cry my tears. Friend, with your sorrows and heartbreaks fly to the arms of the Father. With your joys run to the Father and celebrate in His embrace. When you stumble and fall, don’t hesitate, run to the Father. In Jesus, He is always yearning to clean up your wounds, shower you with His daddy love, and set you walking again. He is your good Father, and He knows all these things before you come with them, but He wants to be in relationship with you and to hear you tell Him all about it.

Gospel yourself: In Jesus, you are a righteous child of the Father in heaven, with all its joys and benefits, solely based off of what Jesus has done for you. There is no greater treasure than simply enjoying the Father; simply resting in His arms (if my earthly father was here right now, I wouldn’t want anything more than to embrace him and rest in His arms). Run to Him and he will gather you into His arms in the best daddy hug you can imagine. I can imagine a pretty amazing daddy hug, because my dad showed me what it was like (a big bear hug – the best!). That hug is only a tiny reflection of the joy, peace and respite found in the Fathers arms. Enjoy.

Truth: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11

Added reflection: Some have not had even a taste of the good heavenly Father from the example of their earthly father. And even the best of earthly fathers fall terribly short of God’s absolute goodness. Here are some scriptures to meditate on the goodness of God the Father to stir our affections for what He is really like…

  • Luke 15:11-32 (“…When he came to his senses, he said… “I will set out and go back to my father…”  –Luke 15:17)
  • Matthew 6:26
  • Matthew 18:12-14
  • Luke 6:35-36
  • Luke 12:32 John 14:1-2
  • John 16:27
  • Romans 8:15-16
  • Matthew 7:9-11
  • 1 John 3:1

…and many more.

Returning and Rest

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling…” Isaiah 30:15

Recently I was able to get away and take a few days of reflection over this last year. While I wish I could say that I waxed spiritually eloquent reflections the whole time, I will say I that I did conquer 3 pints of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. But all in all it was a great time to take in a birds eye view of this last year – the triumphs and the struggles. In looking back over 2013, one thing that really struck home was that God taught me a deeper meaning of rest in Him. In this last year, a few months in the hospital and several more of recovery showed me that He is in control, therefore I can rest in Him knowing that He takes care of family, friends and ministry.

I enter into this new year with new desires and goals, and even in those I find rest. I am reminded to make every day about resting in Jesus – loving Him and others, as He loved me, and growing as His disciple. I can easily let my love for Jesus get choked out by what I have to do each day, but the sum of my days when I stand before God will not sparkle with man made accomplishments. Rather cascades of brilliant glory beyond my current sight or understanding will emanate from a life given to faith in Jesus Christ, resting in my identity as God’s child and co-heir with Jesus, and participating in His grand story, for His glory and the service of others.

In this new year we can all be tempted to rush ahead, putting our trust in our plans and resolutions; relying on our own strength. This is where we need the reminder to return – repenting of trying to do things on our own, and rest in Jesus, right here at the beginning of a new year, and every morning for that matter. Let the plans of the year be laid on the solid foundation of trust and devotion in the One in whom we find life and strength. 

We will dream, we will build, and we will overcome, but not by our own strength. Christian sister, start each day by gospeling yourself. Tell yourself the good news that the victory is not out there, it is in returning. The victory is not in your strength and power, it is found in quietness and trust in Jesus. It is this quietness and trust that will be your strength. What is important today is not how well you will do at work on its own, it is how your rest and trust in Jesus will pour into your work. What is important today is not how well you love your family, it is how your rest and trust in Jesus will pour into loving your family. What will be important at the end of this year is not how well your plans worked out, but it is how your rest and trust in Jesus will pour into the makings of a year that will truly be worth celebrating – because in returning and rest, God worked through you to build a legacy on the True Foundation (1 Cor. 3:10-15). Make the important thing the important thing. I hope it is not said of me or you “but we were unwilling” to return and rest.

Truth:Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28