Wednesday, September 9, 2015

God as Father: Lessons I Learned as a Dad (Part 2)

A few months ago I began a blog series that will be irregular (at best) on lessons I have learned from being a dad about God being our heavenly Father--i.e. what it means for God to be our Father, how that impacts our lives, our relationship with Him as our Father, etc. These are generally lessons I have known in my head from a theological standpoint, but they are things that did not really become existential realities to me until I became a dad. Do you know what I mean? It is one thing to know something in your head, but then when you experience it or a relationship you have reflects it, you really know it. Well, that is what I mean when I say these are lessons I learned from being a dad.

Recently, my wife and I had our second son--Corban Lewis Rollo. He is almost three weeks old now, and over the past few weeks another truth about God as our Father that I "knew" has become real to me in a relational, existential sense.

I must confess, before Corban was born, I knew I would love him, but in the back of my mind I was worried that I would not be able to love him as much as I love Gabriel. I was worried that because Gabriel was the "apple of my eye," Corban would not be able to be as special to me as my firstborn. That is not because or anything in Corban or even really anything in Gabriel, but it is because of a limitation of love I thought I had. You see, I love Gabriel about as much as I thought I could ever love any child. He was special to me in a way that I thought could never be replicated or divided. I thought that because I am a finite, sinful being, there might be a limit to how much I could love my children and Gabriel had almost all of that. I could not imagine having a capacity to love more than I already did with Gabriel. To put it another way, I worried there would not be room in my heart for another child. So, in my mind, I was worried that either Corban would get whatever small amount was left over or if I were to love my boys equally, my love for Gabriel would have to be reduced by the amount of love given to Corban. It is like I have a glass of water, and it is all the water I can give, so in order to give equal amounts of water to two people, I would have to divide the glass in half. But, then Corban was born.

What has amazed me over the past few weeks with both Gabriel and Corban is that the limitation I thought was there on my ability to love simply disappeared. I love Gabriel as much as I could love any child, and I have also discovered that I love Corban as much as I could love any child. I was worried that since Gabriel was special to me, Corban could not be, but over the past few weeks I have realize they are both special to me in a way that cannot be divided but can be duplicated. That is not to say the boys are the same, but they are equally precious in my eyes in a way I thought was not possible. How can a finite, sinful man like me have such a capacity to love? How can a fullness of love not be divided and yet equally given to both? How can there all of a sudden be a second glass of water for the second son? I am not really sure, to be honest, but I have discovered that is the case. And, I think all the parents out there would agree, and those with more children than me would be able to testify that the same thing can happen many times over.

Well, today I was driving and considering the love of God as our Father. I think sometimes we Christians say, "God loves me with an infinite love" or something like that, but then in the back of our minds we think, "But, God loves all the other Christians that way too, so I must not be very special to Him." We know verses like 1 Jn. 4:10 that tell us "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins," and yet, I think we look around on Sunday morning and in the back of our minds worry that His love cannot be very special for us since all these Christians are His children too. Am I really special to God? Can I be the "apple of His eye" without that being reduced when all the other elect are that as well? If my experience as an earthly, sinful, terrible father is any indication, the answer to those questions is a resounding "Yes!"

Jesus did not make us children of God and tell us that we can cry "Abba, Father!" without it being better than anything we earthly fathers can give our children. If I--a generally pathetic excuse for a father and a finite human being--can love my sons equally as much as I can love any child (without reducing the love for each as an individual), then how much more is that true of the heart of our perfect, heavenly Father, who is infinite and "is love"? If I, in my finite capacity, can love my children individually as much as I can love any child without short-changing either of my boys, how much more is that true of the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable God? God loves us as His adopted child in Christ and loves other Christians that way as well, but that in no way means each of us as an individual is not supremely special to Him, not the "apple of His eye," not loved as much as a child of God can be loved. If my love can duplicate without reduction, the God who is love, must be even better. How wonderful is that?

O child of God, bask in that love today and always.

By His Grace,

1 comment:

Big Jen said...

Congratulations on the birth of another son!!