I don’t recall what Mitch did, but I do remember his reaction to Pat’s discipline was unlike any time before.
“You’re not my dad!” Mitch screamed with raged. “I hate you, I hate you!” he added between sobs.
I was shocked as I watched the two of them battle out their affections. I had never seen Mitch behave that way before. He was completely out of control and overwhelmed with anger, fear, and pain.
Pat fell to his knees and embraced our son. Mitch fought him. Without letting go, Pat spoke calmly, “You can hate me if you want, but I will always love you.” Pat struggled to keep his arms around Mitch as he tried to pull loose. “You’re my son. I will never leave you.”
With every word Pat whispered into Mitch’s ear as he held him tightly, Mitch’s fears began to melt away. Suddenly, his body relaxed and he returned his father’s embrace. It was a defining moment for us all. In that instant, our faces still wet with tears, Mitch began to believe in the love of his father, to accept his father’s love, and to offer love in return. He didn’t do it because Pat was his playmate or because he filled a certain role in Mitch’s life. He did it because he had been loved—completely.
Later, as I reflected on the incident, I realized that Pat mirrored the character of our heavenly Father when he vowed to always love Mitch and never let him go. He was saying to our son as God says to us, “No matter what, I’m here for you.” What a beautiful picture of 1 John 4:19. “We love him, because he first loved us.”
Our heavenly Father is not some far away God. He is near to us and we can approach him, regardless of our needs. Our Father wants to be involved in every detail of our lives. He wants to know and share in our joys and our pains. Mostly, God wants us to know His love and that nothing can snatch us away from him.
The word “Father,” referring to God, is translated “Papa” or “Daddy.” These expressions of endearment comfort me as I equate them to my earthly dad, but, perhaps, you’ve never had an earthly father to turn to in times of celebration or sorrow. Maybe your dad was absent and uncaring instead of loving and available to you. If so, you’ve discovered that not all people love sincerely and you’ve been hurt. The good news is, no matter what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, you have a heavenly Father and you can cry out “Daddy!” any time, any place, anywhere. It starts by allowing God to wrap His loving arms around you and wash away all your fears as he whispers to your heart, “I’m here for you—no matter what.”
Our Challenge: Make a list of ways God has shown love to you. For example: forgiveness of sin, mercy, family, health, another day, answered prayer, a hug from a friend, …. After you make your list, thank God for his unfailing love for you. Praise Him for His goodness. I realize some of you may struggle to recognize God’s love. Ask Him to show you how much He loves you. In you mind, crawl up in His lap and say, “Jesus, love on me today.” Stay there until you sense His undying love. Then, in the comment section write, “I am Loved!”