My five year old granddaughter climbed up on my lap a few weeks ago and I’m still thinking about the conversation we had that night…
I pointed to a framed wedding photo of my parents on the table next to us. “Do you know who that man is? He’s your great-grandpa that you lived with for awhile when you were younger. Do you remember him?”
Raylene nodded that she did and asked, “Do you know about him?”
“I do know about him. He’s my daddy. He’s with Jesus now.”
“Will you tell me about him?”
“Sure!” I said with a smile. “Well, he was born in a small town…” Raylene slid off my lap and walked across the room to get something. She came back and sat with me again. I wondered if she really wanted to know about dad and to what extent a five year old cared, so I decided to wait and see if she asked again.
“Are you going to tell me about your daddy?”
“Okay…” and in a moment of grandmotherly “brilliance” I asked, “What do you want to know about him?”
Raylene promptly said, “I want to know about how much he loved me.”
….Aww, so that’s it, I thought. So I told her about how much he enjoyed her company when she and her parents moved in after Mom passed away. I told her how he loved it when she crawled up in his lap and hugged him, or when she walked by and put little toys or treats into his hand.
The conversation was short, but it keeps coming to mind. I thought her question was so insightful. In the end, it sums up how we remember the people in our lives. We remember how they loved us, or unfortunately how they failed. And we remember how we loved them and the ways we failed.
I’m especially thinking about all this today because it’s my dad’s 88th birthday. He’s been with Jesus almost three years now, but he’s in my thoughts every day. I remember how, after he retired, he would walk across our joined backyards daily, no matter how cold it was, or how deep the snow. He’d often bring something– like dilly bars or peanuts or a bag of salt for the water softener. He would sit and visit with us or listen in on our home school work, surrounded by grandchildren and petting our dog with a smile on his face.
When he could no longer leave Mom alone because of her Alzheimer’s, and walking got more difficult with his blindness and age, he would call every day. He’d ask how I was and want updates on my kids and friends that I’d asked him to pray for. When I would go over to his house to take care of Mom or clean or visit, for as long as he was able, he’d walk me to the door and give me a big hug and say something like, “What would I ever do without you? or “You’re wonderful!”
He’d help us out when appliances or cars broke down, without us ever asking. He’d take my hand and put in a handful of twenties before Thanksgiving or other big family events I was hosting. He would tell me I was the best mother in the world, even though I clearly wasn’t. He would discuss faith and God with me and sing songs with me and call me his “precious daughter”.
We were both imperfect people and we sometimes had our challenges. I think of ways I failed him in the end, with tears of regret. But he was a beautiful picture to me of God’s faithful, generous love for us. And I’m forever grateful that I told him that.
I know not everyone is blessed to have a father that loves them well. But we are all blessed with the same Heavenly Father. And He loves each of us. Faithfully. Unconditionally. Sacrificially. He is holy and perfect and good. He is love.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God..” (I John 3:1, New King James Version)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, NKJV)
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32, NKJV)
“… that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God…” (Ephesians 3:17-19, NKJV)
My earthly daddy isn’t with me anymore. But our Abba Father is. He wants to spend time with each of us. He wants to hear about our days, our joys, and our fears. He wants to give us eternal life. He wants to guide and provide for each of us as we submit our lives to His will and His ways.
He waits for us to run to Him calling “Abba, Father!” He covers us with the shelter of His wings, He leads us beside the still waters, and He call us His precious and beloved children.