It’s Who He Is
It was coming up to Christmas, just under five years ago, when my eldest daughter, Emily, was about to turn eight.
My wife and I asked her what she would like for Christmas, (after all, that’s what we parents do, right?)
Before I go on, I must explain that my eldest daughter takes after her mother in many ways. She is beautiful and clever, and has exactly the same hair as her mum.
She takes one thing from me: she’s a little bit of a geek.
(FYI, that’s not a bad thing in any way, it just explains what happened next…)
With this in mind I was disheartened, but not surprised, when Emily, aged 7 at the time, said:
“Please can I have my own laptop?”
I had to find a way to let her down gently.
“I’m really sorry” I said, “We just can’t afford to get you a laptop…”
She was, understandably, saddened to hear this, but, as she always has in situations like this, she put on a brave face and asked for some books instead.
This is the point where I saw God step in.
Out of the blue, my brother-in-law got in touch and told us that he had an old netbook lying around that he didn’t use any more.
He wanted to know whether Emily would like it…
Christmas day came, quicker than expected and Emily was sat on the sofa, waiting expectantly for her gifts.
We gave her a couple of books and some of the smaller things first and then it was time for her “big” present.
She carefully took hold of the wrapping paper and started unwrapping the box.
I watched her 7-year old face as realisation dawned.
“It’s a laptop!”
Then, the strangest thing happened.
She started to cry.
Tears of joy were streaming down her face as she quietly whispered:
“Just tell me one thing: does it have Word?”
You see, God is a good father.
He is the best father.
He provides in a way that we, as earthly parents, can’t.
And He loves to give His children good gifts.
Jesus talks about the Father’s love in Matthew 7 vs 9-11 when He says:
And the great thing about God’s nature is that it doesn’t change.
He is, always has been and always will be this way.
If you were to ask my children whether or not I am a good father, I’m fairly certain their answer will change depending on the day.
Ask them during a school run when I have been up all night working a night shift and I’m pretty certain this is what you’ll get:
But God is not like me.
Unlike me, he is unchanging. His mood doesn’t vary depending on how stressful His day has been or on how much sleep he’s had…
(ok, so I know he doesn’t sleep, but you get my meaning!)
From Age to Age He remains the same.
James summarises all of this succinctly with one verse:
God, the Father of Lights, gives perfect gifts and His nature never changes.
And yet, somehow, we allow out image of God to get distorted by things we have heard or through bad experiences with our own earthly parents.
It’s so easy to start believing that we are insignificant.
Or that He is an angry, vengeful God.
That He just doesn’t care.
But these ideas of God are simply not true.
However far we run, He will always welcome us home.
However far we stray, He will always watch over us.
And He has ALWAYS been this way.
Ever since the beginning of time itself, He has always been this way.
Even in the story of the fall, the narrative of our human rebellion, when we appear to see anger, wrath and punishment, what we are actually seeing is the breaking heart of the Father, watching His children walk away.
You see, humanity chose to leave that place of community with the Father.
We chose a life of independence.
We chose to go our own way.
I don’t believe that God made labour painful, He simply stopped taking the pain away.
He didn’t make it harder for plants to grow in the ground, He simply stopped working the soil for us.
It’s what we chose.
It’s what we wanted.
We chose not to co-govern this world with Him, but rather we wanted to govern the world without Him.
It’s the path we chose.
And we read in Genesis that He made clothing from animal skins for them.
And Theologians will argue that this is a prophetic symbol of Jesus.
Of innocent blood being shed to cover our shame.
And they’re probably right.
But I believe there’s more to it than that.
In that moment, in that simple act, we see a Dad, whose children are about to walk out the door, fastening warm clothes around them saying:
“I’m not going to stop you leaving. But it’s cold out there, you should wear a coat.”
So, as you go about your day today, I pray that you would know that you are safe in His embrace.
Know that you will never be abandoned or rejected.
And know that you are loved, more than you could possible imagine.
For God is a good, good Father.