A Father’s Joy

My daughter is nearly three years old and living in a house with three older brothers, it can get kind of confusing for her. She loves and idolizes her brothers, wanting to do everything they do. Recently she told me that when she grows up she wants to be a boy. I don’t blame her, those brothers of hers have a lot of fun as boys. My wife and I thought it was about time she had her own room thus banishing the last remaining of the three brothers to their one (large) basement bedroom where they will no doubt contend to see who wins the right to stay on the island. So after moving her brother down with the others, we set up her big girl bed decorated with stereotypical pink sheets and a Minnie the Mouse blanket; thus we embarked on her first night in the room alone. She was pretty excited to be able to sleep in her bed, but kept getting up to come to the door to see what we were doing. After about the fourth time of hearing little footsteps run to the door and seeing a little blonde head peak around the corner to see if we were still there, I knew I needed to do something. Finally, I was able to get her to go to sleep in her new “big girl” bed, by lying next to her while she put her feet in my face and stroked my arm hair (yes, she is a starfish sleeper).

It is very important to lie motionless when putting a toddler to sleep. Anyone who has had that privilege knows that any sudden movements can be interpreted as permission to wake up and get going for the day while it is still the middle of the night. Lying frozen with those beautiful toddler toes in your eyes and tiny toddler hands wrapped around your arm are unbelievably satisfying moments for a father. There are many things about me that I am embarrassed about, one of those things being my gigantic personal space bubble that makes me seem cold and distant from people at times; but when it comes to my children, nothing is more delightful to me than having them in that bubble with me.

As I was silently lying next to my baby girl who was all up in my personal bubble, my mind wandered to thoughts about my God. And I pondered, “This is how God, my Father, must think about me as a chosen son of love!” As Christians we often talk about our delighting in God, our obedience to God, our hope in God, our faith in God, our joy in God. And these are right themes within the Scripture. Yet a greater message emerges from our Bible reading, one that often eludes us because we are so good at putting our action at the center of the Bible. This greater message is that God delights in us, his chosen children, far more than we can ever delight in him. Because we are so self-focused, we often would think of God our Father as being in some other room in the house and it is our duty as children to go seek him out while he stares blankly at the newspaper; and it is our duty to get his attention, to perform for him, to make him pleased to look at us kindly, while he mumbles barely picking his head up from the daily news. We often think that it is our hope to seek him out and to cause God to delight in us. But the message of the Bible is quite different than all that. In the Scripture we discover that we cannot please God by seeking him out. In fact, the focus of the Bible is not man coming to God, but God coming to man. From the first pages in Genesis when God comes seeking Adam and Eve who had just sinned, to God seeking out Abraham, and God coming to Moses on the back side of the desert. Throughout the Scripture, God is seeking worshipers, worshipers are not seeking after God. Ultimately God comes to man personally as the second person of the Trinity in human form, Jesus, who incidentally will come again to us upon the earth.

But why would the Bible focus on God coming to us, seeking us out? It is for the same reason that I went and lay down next to my toddler last night, simply because she is my beloved and I as her dad, enjoy her presence. I enjoy her tiny little smelly feet. I enjoy her little fingers unable to completely wrap themselves around my wrist. I enjoy her little blue eyes and white little teeth both staring at me as she drifts off into the night. I enjoy her heartbeat; I enjoy her warm little breath as it gets shallow while she falls into a deep sleep. I as dad delight in her presence as daughter.

Child of God, do you realize that it is not ultimately that we must delight in God, but as a perfect Father, he already Divinely delights in us? Do you understand that through Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of God in whom the Father is well-pleased, you are beloved and well-pleasing to him? But what about when we do foolish things? What about when disobey, or when we are rebellious? When my little girl throws a fit, disobeys or seeks to deceive me, I discipline her, chasten her. But I do so because my hope and goal is that we can put that discipline behind us and she will again delight in me and I in her. My love for her does not wane, my delight in her does not disappear, even in my chastening of her. Instead, we grow closer in discipline, because she knows it is so that we can be rightly related to one another and enjoy one another again.

Christian, do you realize that God gave you his Word, written in a book, because he delights in talking to you? Do you realize that God opens up the door of prayer through Jesus by the Holy Spirit because he delights in hearing from you? Do you understand that he gave you the church, the fellowship of the saints, because he delights in seeing spiritual siblings living together in harmony and joy and learning of Him together? Do you get that he gave you musical expression because he loves to hear your voice? Can you fathom that he gave you work because he loves to watch his children grow and be productive? This is the love of God, not that we loved him, but that He loves us. God loves his little children, even enjoys his little children and we would do well to consider just how deep this Father’s love for us really is.

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