It’s true that the image of God that we carry around in our hearts and minds affects our everyday lives.
I’ve long believed that while both of one’s parents have significant and influential roles, fathers inherently and heavily shape our identity in many respects.
Many of us today don’t have healthy relationships with our natural fathers. And often, this unhealthy relationship carries through as baggage in our relationship with God that causes us to miss out on His best.
To enjoy the best and fullness of God, which shows up in the rest of our lives, it becomes imperative that we see who He really is and what He’s really like. That includes His love for us.
It was May 28, 1984, and I would never be the same after this day. My wife, Cheryl, was nine months pregnant and ready for the birth of our first child. When the time came for her to give birth, I was at her side and had the privilege of seeing our son born into the world.
Cheryl and I were thrilled and thankful that God had given us a little boy. Within minutes of his birth, he was whisked away by a nurse who asked me to follow. I walked close to her as we made our way down a hallway in this little hospital in Kealakekua, Hawaii. We took a right and entered a little side room where the nurse began to fill the sink with lukewarm water. While doing so, she handed me my freshly born, bloody, and slimy son and instructed me to wash him. She gave me a towel and left the room, leaving me alone with my son for the very first time.
I looked at him and studied him—and found that he had my chin! As I gently began to wash him, I spoke tenderly, and I experienced feelings I had never felt before. I told him that his name was Ryan David, that I loved him, that I would always love him, and that I would remain committed to him all the days of my life.
As I expressed my love and commitment to my new little boy, he lay before me, peacefully observing this man whom he would soon come to know as his father. He didn’t have to get cleaned up for me to love him. He didn’t have to promise me anything or perform to gain my love and acceptance. He had already won my heart—and I had given him my unconditional love long before I ever saw him.
I had thoughts and emotions that night unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was wonderful to have a child whom I could love and give myself to. Although I knew I would make many mistakes as I raised him, my heart was steadfast in that I would love him no matter what. Later, it dawned on me — if I could express that kind of deep love and commitment to a child as a finite father, how much more does God, as an infinite heavenly Father, desire for us to know His unconditional love and commitment toward us?
For our heavenly Father, we don’t have to get cleaned up, promise anything, or perform to gain His heart’s attention. His love knows no bounds and His commitment toward us is everlasting. How He longs for us to catch just a glimpse of how much He wants to lavish His love upon us. He knows that once we grasp ahold of His amazing love for us, we will never be the same again!