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A Father's Love

Rachel and Peter, Pastor Mike's adult children

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7 NIV)

I will never forget the day I became a dad.

Shirley and I had spent years fighting infertility. It became obvious we were never going to get pregnant, short of a miracle from God, and we spent a couple of more years pursuing adoption. It's a much longer story of tears, faith, hope and hopes dashed, and finally resignation that we loved God and trusted Him, even if His plan for our lives did not involve being parents.

Then it happened. A physician friend had a "what am I going to do" talk with a single mom who already had three children and was pregnant with twins. He mentioned this couple he knew who wanted to adopt. We knew an attorney who arranged a private adoption. Our twins were born, and six days later our physician friend picked them up from the hospital and brought them to us. As he placed our son, and then our daughter, in my arms, I was overwhelmed with love for these two precious babies, and I knew: I had become their father.

Something happened that day I did not anticipate. The love that swelled up in my heart for my son, Peter, and daughter, Rachel, was deep and powerful. They were mine, because I chose them. In that moment, I understood the love of my Father more fully than I had ever known it before as I basked in the love of being a father to our twins.

I am loved by God like I love my children - only times infinity. My love for Peter and Rachel is a reflection of the great love of my Father, expressed in the sacrificial gift of redemption by His Son on the Cross and sealed by the Presence of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I am chosen, just as I chose to make the twins mine. I am loved by a Father who would even take on flesh and bear the excruciating pain of crucifixion to redeem me from sin and death so I could be adopted as His child.

He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:11-13 NIV)

So Father's Day has a dual meaning for me. I am honored to be appreciated by my children as their dad on this day, just as my Heavenly Father is filled with joy when I love and appreciate and worship Him. And as a dad, Father's Day fills me with more and more love for my now adult children, while also reminding me that I am loved by my Father even more deeply and powerfully than the love I have for them.

Becoming a dad deepened my understanding of my Father's love. It is expressed in an old hymn:

O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, That in thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be.

My dad's love never let me go from his heart. My love will never let my children go from my heart. And my Father's love will never let me go from His. The love of our human families has a reservoir of love in God that is as deep as the ocean. His love never fails, even when I fail to be faithful. I am both a child of God and a father to my children, and God's love is powerfully demonstrated in both.

One final word today for someone whose earthly father was absent or abusive. I had a great dad growing up, but he was not perfect. In many ways he was reserved in his affection for his children. I tried to be the best dad I could, but I was not perfect, either. I was too often consumed by my calling and let too many moments slip by without loving my kids well. This I know: I have a Father who never fails. His love never fails. He is Father to me, and to my kids and grandkids, beyond all the failures of my earthly father or mine. Nothing can separate me (us) from His love. And His love is deeper and more powerful than the scars of an earthly dad who was absent or abusive. On this Father's Day, I am thankful for this:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)


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