Our Good Father

17 08 2015

I didn’t have kids just so I could make them follow my rules. I wanted someone with which to share life and love.

In the absence of father-love, as it was during my childhood, all that remained were the rules. I had to keep them “or else.” Oh, I had a ‘dad’ – but never a dad’s heart.

God’s life-long (mine, not His) transformation goal for me has been to unwind this mindset from my thought processes. It’s very hard to let go of my early training.

For instance, it’s hard to trust His invitation to come boldly. Boldness got my face slapped when I was young.

It’s hard to believe in His genuine love and good plans for me. “Love” was phony and manipulative – and usually cost me plenty.

It’s hard to believe that God really wants me. I was unwelcome in my home and spent most of my years in my room where it was safe.

It’s hard to trust that I can come to Him with my struggles, or to ask Him for help. I was taught that I had to figure things out on my own. Requests for counsel were usually met with contempt for my stupidity and inability to handle my own problems.

My function, as far as ‘dad’ was concerned, was to serve him, keep him happy, and stay out from in front of the TV. The thought of being welcomed into relationship with him was given up as a lost cause.

The end result was that I became a self-reliant, people-pleasing loner.

{Not everyone had this kind of experience, thus your relationship with God is healthy and thriving. I am genuinely happy for you, and so thankful that you’ve not had to struggle to believe that He really loves you. Perhaps you’re reading this help you better understand those of us for whom this is a challenge.}

It is for these reasons, and many more, that God has been hard at work releasing me from the belief that His love is also performance-based.

One important lesson I’ve learned is that He created me – then later adopted me – because He wants to share life and love with me.

Perception is everything.

What some call ‘rules’, others see as boundaries. These are invisible fences put in place for my protection. My good Father knows what will bring pain, guilt, shame, and a host of other undesirable emotions. He would like to spare me the turmoil, and so He says, “Thou shalt not…”

He also knows that He is much wiser than I will ever be. He sees the end from the beginning and thus can rightly judge a thing as good or evil.

To the extent that we do not trust God, we do not ask Him to define the issue at hand.

Father, please talk to me about this. What’s Your perspective? What do I need to know or learn here? Where are You in this?

From Scripture we discover that our natural definitions of good and evil must be set aside, and we must learn to discern what is truly good and truly evil.

These were treasures waiting to be unearthed for me. I’m onto something, and so excited:

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil… 1 Kings 3:9

In other words, not lean on our own understanding.

This is vitally important, for:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12

From my own life, I could give countless examples of times when I did what I thought was the *right* thing to do – only to have it end in the death of something – most often the end of relationships, dreams, and my integrity.

No, I don’t believe that my Father created me so I could follow rules. He’s not an egomaniac on another control kick. His rules are for my protection, for He knows best what works well for me.

I’m fairly certain that I’ll be happier if I don’t murder someone, steal their stuff, or break up their marriage.

God is the best Father ever. He loves us with the same love He has for Jesus. His desire is for us to know Him – not just know His rules and how to ‘stay off His radar.’

I leave you with this:

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

That’s a lot of ‘doing.’ These weren’t bench warmers in the synagogue; they were active members.

But listen to the Lord’s response:

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

Relationship – not religion. This will make all the difference in the end.

Our good Father wants children, not hirelings.





Polka-Dot Love

15 08 2015

As a parent, I came to appreciate the uniqueness of each of my seven children. Their little personalities were varied, their needs different from child to child.

I could not offer a one-size-fits-all kind of love or attention to them. Each one responded to different styles or interactions..the Five Love Languages, and all that. Part of my role as their mother was to figure out what each one needed, then supply that need.

As adults each of us have ways by which we best feel love. We have a heavenly Father who knows how to best meet that need, and He does so. His ways of communicating with us are as varied as the number of people in existence.

He’s a good Father.

When children are adopted, they come with ‘baggage’ from their family of origin. The challenge for the adoptive parents is to overcome what the child ‘knows’ about a father and/or a mother, for his or her concept is often skewed. When the new parents are patient, gentle, and persistent, the child comes to accept that they are loved, and slowly replace what they thought they knew about what a mom or dad is, with the new reality.

This can be a lengthy process, one that tears at the hearts of their new parents until breakthroughs begin to occur.

Right after my second birthday, I was adopted by my new step-dad. Unfortunately, he wasn’t interested in winning my heart – only in winning the imagined competition against my father. Sadly, he didn’t want the ‘trophy’ (me), that came with ‘victory’.

Kids aren’t equipped with the mental ability to understand that a parent is broken, and unable to love…so they call what they receive “love” and believe their experience to be the true definition. The rest of their life most will continue to define love by what they learned from their father.

As most are wont to do, I superimposed the treatment I received from my ‘dads’ over what I expected from God. I wrote about my experiences her: Unlock Your Shackles

When God adopted me, He ‘had His work cut out for Him’, as they say. It’s been a lengthy, slow process, but His love never fails and His patience is enduring.

At first I trusted Him not at all. He persisted, though, and has used methods that are unique to me in order to win my heart. This blog is filled with such stories: pink shoes, heart-shaped rocks, a gold lambskin jacket, provision when we had no food (for six months!), heart-shaped potatoes, and so forth.

While this looks like He panders to my materialism, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

My love language is not shopping!

Being Spirit in nature, He cannot wrap me in His arms, stroke my hair, or hold my hand. (However He did dance with me one day! See: Shall We Dance?) Consequently, He’s been creative in the ways He communicates His love to me. Each of the things listed came with a special lesson for me to learn about what a good Father is like.

Severely put off by what I believed about fathers, this unlearn/re-learn process has taken decades. Because He loves me and wants me to be secure in Him, He’s gone out of His way to demonstrate His goodness.

When others’ experiences with Father differ from ours, we must guard against undoing His work. What offends our senses may be merely because the experience was not meant for us. Unless their ‘take-away’ twists God into a heinous creature, we do well to rejoice with them in their breakthrough.

God knows how to best reach every one of us. He relentlessly pursues us and teaches us just how good He is.

As a kid, I was fond of polka-dots.

As an adult, I am fond of His polka-dot love for me…specially and deliberately designed to melt my heart.

He’s a good Father!

*Oh, the three verses I promised to share will be in my next post. 😉