“I don't know. I guess I see Him kind of like a grandmother,” she answers with a chuckle.
Our night had been good, full of laughter and worship. But late nights bring serious topics, and we'd finally gotten around to the heart of the matter, her heart on this matter. And it was hurting.
“I guess you don't miss what you've never had,” she whispers, looking down at the pillow clutched to her chest.
But I knew better. I could see it in her eyes. She was wishing she knew just what to miss. And I was missing it for her. Because I knew what she was missing, I had known the love of a father and I missed mine terribly.
“A father is an irreplaceable thing.”
It's the only line I remember from the hundreds of sympathy cards. This one was addressed specifically to me, and I couldn't forget it. It was just so true. To this day, seven years later, I think of this on the 19th of each month. And for her it was bleeding over into everything else.
“I just don't believe it. My friends tell me they love me, and I just think, 'Yeah, right. They don't really mean it,'” she's says, looking at me intently now, “and I have a hard time believing God as well.”
The concept of God as our Father is central to the gospel. He created us, and we are His children whom He loves passionately. He is where we find our worth. He is where we find our purpose. He is our sustainer and fulfiller. Our everything.
And we, we are the pride of His heart.
It seems so much easier to think of who God is to me rather than who I am to God. Even I, who've had a good, loving father, struggle with the idea that I am cherished by my Father. Why is this so difficult for me? Why is it so difficult to accept the unconditional love of the One who created me?
My heart breaks for her and for me, for all of us who limit God by not believing He is who He says He is. We are all the same, children struggling to climb out from under the weight of a lie, a lie that says our Father doesn't really love us, doesn't really want the best for us, that He isn't really a good Father. It's a lie that's been smothering His children for centuries. It's the lie that started it all, or ended it all, whichever way you want to look at it.
But this is the good thing about lies, they aren't true. And we still have a chance to change things, to make it right again. We don't have to believe the things we've learned to feel or think.
We don't have to believe the lies.
These things in our lives that have shaped who God is to us are not truth, and they can't be our excuse for holding ourselves back from our Father. I believe God expects more. He has given us His word, and He expects us to believe it. He wants us to change our thinking to match His truth. Our minds need reshaping and refilling with new truth about who God is and what He thinks about us.
But...how?? How can we learn to reshape and refill our minds with only His truth?
My conclusion is immersion.
Only when we are totally immersed in God's truth will our minds begin to accept it as truth, to believe it as truth. The biggest influence in our every thought needs to be God's word, His truth.
A few years ago Kenneth and I tried an experiment. It was a life-changing and mind-altering experiment. It reshaped our thinking, our feelings, and usually our hearts. Our experiment was to read the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each week for three months. Not one gospel per week, but all four, every week, for three months. Twelve times each. Total immersion.
And it changed me.
I came to the realization pretty quickly that these stories, parables, sayings, truths that Jesus taught were bleeding over into everything else. All of a sudden everything in my life seemed to relate in some way to the Gospel, to something Jesus had taught. And it felt like I was meeting Him for the first time. I wanted desperately to know more of this man who chose me as His child and loved me despite all I had done or ever could do. He became real to me. I began to believe He is who He says He is.
So my challenge for you is this: If you are struggling today with believing God is who He says He is, immerse yourself in His truth.
Take three months and get to know your Father. (Of course, three months is not enough to know everything about God, but you know what I mean...) Immerse yourself in His word. Learn to know Him as Father, and listen to the truth about who you are to Him.
You will come away changed.