“It is an item of faith that we are children of God; there is plenty of evidence in us against it. The faith that surmounts this evidence and that is able to warm itself at the fire of God’s love, instead of having to steal love and self-acceptance from other sources, is actually the root of holiness … We are not saved by the love we exercise, but by the love we trust.”
It was a Tuesday afternoon, and my dad’s voice rang out clearly through the phone receiver.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on April 5, 2019. You can find it here.)
There are many qualities about God’s character I find deeply comforting: His omni-ness (omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent), His justice, His mercy, His wisdom, His patience, His faithfulness. On and on it goes. These attributes and a thousand more draw my heart to the throne with a profound sense of wonder.
But I keep forgetting He’s a dad—a really, really good one. Which means there’s a new characteristic I need to add to my list of what I love about this fascinating God the angels never tire of extolling.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on January 28, 2019. You can find it here.)
Go-getter. Independent. Fearless. Capable. In the American economy, these are titles worth striving for, and strive we do. We strive until our peace is shot-through with bullet holes, our families have learned to function without us, and our souls are withered and whimpering. “Arm yourselves!” is the new battle cry of the republic, and much of the church rushes to answer.
Buddy the elf embarked on an adventure because he wanted a relationship with his dad. Rudolph longed for the approval of his papa. Ralphie was terrified of his dad’s temper. Clark gave his family a man who daydreamed about abandoning them for an underwear model. Howard spent the entirety of his movie trying to make up for his absenteeism by buying off his son. And the poor grinch didn’t even have a father.
In a time and place where people are divided by a million things—Democrat or Republican, black or white, fries or tots—it’s good to remember what we share in common. As humans, we cherish secret hopes. We revolve around a unique set of values. We long deeply for love. And most of us have daddy issues. I’ve met remarkably few people whose stories depict a healthy, thriving relationship with their father over the long haul. For whatever reason, good dads are in short supply at this point. With all of the baggage surrounding our earthly fathers, it’s easy to foster misconceptions about our heavenly Father: who He is, what He’s like, how He thinks of us.
Some of my favorite people are orphans. And of course they’re fictional characters. Anne Shirley, Harry Potter, Amy Pond, Frodo Baggins, Christine Daae, Dorothy Gale, Quasimodo, Lilo… throw in the functional orphans (hello, Eliza, Pippi, and Huck!), and you’ve got quite the crew ready to take on the world.
When I was little, the four siblings fending for themselves in an abandoned boxcar seemed so free, so romantic. No one made them eat their broccoli or go to bed while it was still light outside or wear horrible frilly socks to church. Lucky. They didn’t know how good they had it, cooling their milk in the stream and cleverly solving mysteries whenever they wanted to!