“We have a father that loves us, simply because we exist.”
I used to brag about having never broken a bone. “Used to” is the key phrase there. It is a dumb thing to brag about, but I felt inclined to do so, probably because I had a lot of friends growing up who had broken at least a finger. Things changed, though, on one fateful fall day in 6th grade. We were playing flag football, and our team in P.E. had made it to the championship game. I am not an athlete. I won’t lie to anyone about that… but that day I was feeling good. I had gotten some flags and was feeling very confident. Near the end of the game, when our team needed a stop, I decided to put the team on my back and made a dive for my opponent’s flag. I got it. Evidently, though, the weight of the team on my back was too great a burden for the bones in my left forearm. Pulsing with adrenaline, I got up, looked down at my very broken arm, and handled it like a pro, not a single scream or tear… okay so I actually freaked out a lot.
Next thing I know, I am in a wheelchair (note: apparently you can’t walk with a broken arm) getting pushed down to the school nurse’s office. She calls my house, and I just have to sit there, with ice on my arm, waiting for someone to show up to take me to the hospital for this fun little surgery I now got to experience. All things considered, I was feeling pretty fine. Adrenaline was doing its job to not make the pain too bad, and the school nurse was good company. I felt pretty good. Then my dad walked in, and I started ugly-crying. To this day, I still don’t have a great reason for why that happened. I didn’t feel a sharp burst of pain nor did my arm somehow break even more, no nothing changed at all. My dad walked over to me, his face full of fatherly compassion and protection, and we went out to the car to head to the hospital. True to form, we probably got there in 2 minutes. He was being very generous with the idea of a “speed limit”. For those of you that were worried, my arm works great and I’ve got two big scars to remember the day.
So, why did I lose it when I saw my dad? I think it was because when I saw him, I knew I was safe. I knew things were going to be alright. I trust my dad, and I love him, and I know he loves me, so when he walked in the room I knew that even if surgery was going to be a major pain in the butt he was by my side. I didn’t do anything to earn his love. I had it from the moment I was born, simply because I existed.
This last weekend we talked about God as our Father, looking at the parable of the lost sons. It’s a wonderful story that conveys what is true about my relationship with my dad only at a level infinitely higher, deeper, and wider. When his younger son disrespects him and squanders all the money he had, how does the father respond? With open arms, ready to welcome his child back with no strings attached. When his older son’s self-righteousness and pride lead him to hate his father and brother, how does the father respond? With the steady, gracious tone of a father whose arms are wide enough for all his children.
We have a father that loves us, simply because we exist. He has so much more for us than we often let ourselves believe, and when we refuse him, he is gracious and asks us to come back. He is safe, steady, compassionate, protective, abundantly selfless, and incomprehensibly loving. What a Father. What a God.