God the Father

If I were to ask you, who is the Advent season about?  You would say _____.   If you said, Jesus, great!  You get an A+.  For me this Advent season, it seems no matter what I do, God keeps reminding me of His part in this story.  He keeps drawing me back to himself as the loving Father.  I’d like to share with you a few parts of this year’s little learning Advent-ure 😉

It all started in a small village in France in late October.  Everywhere we went, we saw families together.  And not just together, but children happily holding their parents hands or siblings hands while the whole family took a walk.  Fathers, Mothers and children would play in the park together (I’m not talking about the parents talking to one another at one side of the playground while the kids nearly kill themselves on the jungle gym, I’m talking about actually running around with their children and playing with them).  Teenagers were even willing to hold the hands of their parents.  If this was just one family, that would be one thing, but it’s a whole other thing that it was nearly every family nearly every evening.  Seeing these families wanting to be together gave me a joy and a hope that I couldn’t seem to explain.  It brought to mind the handful of times that my parents played with us kids; we loved it and were sad when those rare times ended.

Next, came Berlin at the beginning of November.  There was a speaker there named Dr. Neufeld who spoke about parental attachment and how today’s culture no longer supports parental attachment but instead opts for peer attachment.  This means that parents must work harder than times past to have their children’s hearts as they grow older.  He writes from his perspective of working in the field, but also as a father of teenage daughters.  From this book, I have come to understand so much about myself, my family and why kids with parents are growing up with an orphan kind of mentality.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has kids, is thinking about adopting, or anyone who wants to understand themselves better.  It’s called Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld. The point of this book is that to remain close with your child, you must purposefully be physically, mentally and emotionally close.  It helped me to understand why seeing those families in France meant something.

A few weeks ago, I received a newsletter update from the co-founder of the foundation “The Harbor” that Ethan and I visited in St. Petersburg, RU a few years ago.  It’s a foundation that takes in orphans/street kids that have “graduated” at the age of about 16 or 17 (this really means that they are given a small sum of money and sent out to the streets to figure how to survive on their own).  The Harbor is a Christian organization that gives these kids a place to live, food to eat, and more importantly, teaches them useful working skills and about the love of God.  In the newsletter, Melinda Cathey talked about how she had once asked the kids, “What do you think of when you hear the word Father?”  For a long time, no one responded because most of them had not experienced having a father.  Those that did, only had negative associations.

And yesterday, it all came together as I was meditating on the first words of the Lord’s Prayer “Our Father.” Here’s what God brought to mind about Himself.

God knows me and wants to be known by me.

God wants me.

God provides for my every need, without exception.

God is not grudging in his gifts.

God knows my every desire and longing.

God takes the time to comfort me.

God loves me, without any conditions attached.

God never leaves me.

God protects me.

God is not unjust.

God forgives me when I mess up.

God makes no excuses.

God is not afraid.

God does not mock me.

God does not give up on us.

God gave up his only son, so that all of his other adopted sons and daughters might have life.

Perhaps the word Father mostly has negative associations for you too.  Perhaps these descriptions of God sound nothing like your dad.  I would encourage you to remember that although this season is about the gift of the Son, it’s also about the gift of the Father who wants more than anything to be close to you.

“He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Eph. 1:5-6)  Now that’s an amazing gift!  Merry Christmas!