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The Father’s Love

We once had the most adorable little freckle-faced strawberry-blonde three-year-old you’ve ever seen. She would look up at me through her auburn eyelashes, with her big blue eyes and crinkle her nose as she pondered the wise-sounding words this adoring mama bestowed upon her.  We still have this person, but she is now a beautiful, though fiery, 22-year-old red-head we all love.  When she was that nose-crinkling 3-year-old, a few years ago, I learned a powerful lesson about a parents’ love for their children.

My parents were at our house one lovely spring day those many years ago, and we were preparing to enjoy a meal together.  My dad was in the kitchen with me and my little 3-year-old, chitchatting about the things fathers and daughters chat about – or I should say, the things my father and I chat about – flowers and gardening, food and cooking, children and the antics they come up with, and anything pertaining to family.

I don’t remember exactly what prompted the mentioning of something yellow by my father – possibly some flowers I had planted – but it elicited the comment from my daughter’s mouth, “Yellow, like Mommy’s teeth!”  I responded to her with a put-on look of outraged shock through my burst of laughter, as I turned to my dad to see if he had enjoyed the forthrightness of my daughter as much as I had.  I was instantly sobered and amazed.  He looked at my darling little 3-year-old, who had just entertained the heck out of me, with the look he would give anyone who had been deliberately hurtful or offensive to one of his children or his wife – a look of protection and correction – a look I definitely did not think my  little 3-year-old merited, but one I’d seen before toward children from parents of adult children with children.

Before this particular incident, in situations like this one, I would become fiercely protective of my children and was all eyes on them, ready to intervene at the first sign of confusion or hurt feelings.  But this time I was relaxed enough (and entertained by my child enough) to not leap into my “mother-bear” mode, but to observe the situation and reactions and do a bit of thoughtful analyzing.  And I was astonished.

My dad felt protective of me toward my little three-year-old.  He almost seemed offended by her and concerned that she would insult me or hurt my feelings.  I had seen reactions like this from my parents and other adult children’s parents before, but hadn’t really thought through what prompted this.  But that day, that experience planted a seed in my heart that has been growing toward more understanding since.

As my children grew into their teens and young adulthood, and I began to experience the normal “pulling away” that teens and young adults begin to exhibit toward their parents, this lesson became a slightly painful one.  As parents, this is our eventual goal – to have our children grow up and become self-sustaining adults – but it is painful.  As I watched my children become adults and leave our little nest, this lesson that had been simmering in my mind for many years blossomed into a full-blown realization that caused a bit more than a slight pain; it was quite painful indeed!  But as my sight began to turn from inward toward my pain to upward toward my Heavenly Father, I had a wonderful revelation of Him that I wish would “stick” in my brain.  Alas, though, I have to deliberately and intentionally return to this truth frequently.

Parents love their children more than children love their parents.

Let me say that again!

Parents love their children more than children love their parents.

We love our children with a love like no other.  It is fierce in its protectiveness, more deep-seated than any other love in existence, more sacrificial than any other love, and it motivates us to do things we wouldn’t do for anyone else, laying aside our own dreams and visions so they can reach for their dreams and visions.  It is an amazing love.  One that comes so naturally when we become parents that we don’t really see that we are doing anything but what our heart compels us to do.  We must love our children.  Anything else would be out of the question; painful, in fact.

That interesting moment with my dad and my youngest daughter those many years ago was quite enlightening to me.  I love my children with the most intense love, and so I assumed everyone else does, too!  Well, if not everyone, at least my own parents would see that my children are worthy of the most intense love on earth.  But, no.  That is not what I began to see that day 20-plus years ago.  My dad loves me with that kind of love.  He loves his children with that kind of love.  But, it is a different kind of love grandparents have for their grandchildren.  Oh, they love them!  Believe me, they love them!  I have four grandchildren, and if you mess with them, you are going to get a taste of my “grandma-bear” mode!  But, it is a bit different from the love I have for my own children.  My grandchildren have parents to protect, nurture, provide for them, and all the things parents do.  They don’t need that kind of love from me, their grandmother.

But let’s turn our thoughts from this “earthly” love we have as parents and ask ourselves, “Do we realize that God has no grandchildren?”

God has no grandchildren.

Only children.

I love my children more than life itself.  I would lay down my life to promote, further, or save one of my children’s lives.  What I realized, though, as my children grew into their adult selves was that they do not love me like that!  They love their children like that, but not me, their mother.  What a painful revelation!  Until I transfer that thought back to my Heavenly Father.

He loves me……..and you, and everyone else He created, more than we love Him.

We are, after all, God’s children.  He loves us more than we could ever possibly love Him.  And, He knows that.  In fact, I believe He knew that before He ever created us; before He ever set His plan for time and eternity into motion.  He knew He would always love us more than we love Him.

And, just like we earthly parents are with our children, He is with us – it doesn’t matter to Him that He loves us more than we love Him.  He can’t help Himself.  He loves us!

Most of us can quote John 3:16 like we can count to 10.  But do we ever really stop and meditate on it and let the profound, fathomless depth of this very real truth settle into our hearts and minds and change our lives?

Almost 3 years ago one of my children lost his life.  I had no choice in the matter.  God did not ask me if I minded if He took one of my (His) children home to be with Him for eternity; meaning my son is not here with me for the rest of my earthly life.  If God had asked me, I would not have allowed it.  I want him here with me, living out his earthly life and then standing by my graveside when the time comes for the right and proper thing to happen – I die before him.  But God didn’t ask me.

God did have that choice.  In fact, He could have made everything go perfectly.  But He didn’t.  He allowed man to make their own decisions, which caused them to break covenant with God by disobeying Him.  Which led God to want to make a way for man to return to Him.  Which led God to send His own Son to the earth to die on the cross.  He, being God, and therefore having the power to do whatever He desired, chose to have His Son DIE.  And He did so because He loves us so much He wants us to be with Him for all of eternity.

I could not do that.

I don’t love Him as much as He loves me.

And He knows that.

But He still did what He did.

And does what he does.

He loves us with an incorruptible love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  John 3:16-18

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

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