Sabbath Reflections from a Dad’s Heart

Unexpected Anticipation 

It wasn’t something I expected.  It came out of the blue.

My wife Jamie had been away for a week with our two younger children, and I was in charge of our 14 and 16 year olds.  We missed them a ton. Needless to say, there were some ups and downs during that week.  Yet, we had emerged closer through successfully navigating the trials that came when Mom was away.

A couple days after she got home, the surprise hit. The beginning of the Sabbath was about four hours away, and I found my heart feeling a stir, a longing, unlike anything I’d ever felt before. I found myself envisioning being with my family that evening with a level of anticipation and longing I don’t ever remember feeling.  Now as you may imagine, I do love my family, but at that moment, the depth of desire I felt to have my family be together, where I am engaged as a loving dad, was just palpable.

I made the announcement shortly thereafter about my desire to enjoy a dinner with them that night. After our outdoor afternoon plans were obliterated by a relentless downpour, we found ourselves sitting comfortably around a table for six in a nice restaurant with excellent food.

Delighting in my Family

The feeling of anticipation I had earlier felt was met with an even greater experience.  Being with my wife and four kids was so good. To be with them, to enjoy them, to appreciate their uniqueness and delight in our interactions was so rich. I wasn’t thinking about my kid’s GPA’s or their accomplishments, and certainly not their shortcomings.  I wasn’t thinking about who they could become to make me look good. I was simply happy to be with them, and enjoy them, without needing them to relentlessly devote their lives to working hard for me. My heart was undeniably full as I delighted in the gift that each person at that table is to me.

 The Delight and Anticipation of The Father

As I’ve reflected on that set of experiences, it began to slowly dawn on me: I was getting a deeper glimpse of the heart of The Father.  Even more incredible, my heart was actually becoming more like His. What an astonishing gift.

Then I was hit even deeply more as my mind began to entertain new ideas. If I as a man with undeniable selfish tendencies had a longing to be with my family, imagine how God, who is remarkably loving, anticipates being with us His children!  I had never thought of God anticipating something.  It almost brought a tear to my eye as I imagined God being excited about being with us and enjoying us as His children.  I then thought, I’m guessing He really looks forward to the weekend, when so many of His children gather and worship in His name!

The Takeaway

For so many of us, it is so easy to focus on all we feel called to do for God.  That can become a distraction or even a way to avoid our greatest need, which is to deeply receive our identity as beloved children. When we fall into the trap of over emphasizing doing, we end up relationally and emotionally starved, unable to powerfully receive grace or extend it.  That is tragic, and plays right into Satan’s hand.  From there, it’s so easy to fall into the lie that we are on our own, having to scramble to make our lives work. The combination can have terrible consequences, where we often betray our greatest goal, which is to truly love well.

The image of God as a loving, generous Father, (which I believe is at the heart of who He is), is a powerful and redemptive means for calling us out of striving and self-reliance. Taking consistent time to reflect on His provision and goodness over the course of our lives and how much He values us as His children, woos us into His peace and rest, and gives us a greater ability to carry out the tasks of the day with greater joy and less stress.

Further, envisioning Him delighting in being with us, and anticipating being with us, brings a delight like no other.  Jesus spoke of not drinking of the fruit of the vine until we’re all together in heaven as a way of symbolizing how much he looks forward to that time. And the Father I believe really looks forward to having each of us sit on his lap and tell our stories, stories of joy and sadness, where He gets to be the Dad He really is, to comfort us and wipe away our tears, so we can enjoy the feast that will be like no other.  A feast where each of us feels infinitely valued, where our humble efforts are celebrated, and where we feel secure at home like never before.

May these ideas grant you a greater ability to take in just how much you are valued by the Father of All. May they fill you with a greater sense of His delight in you, simply because you are His and He made you. And may you be more equipped to bring His loving heart to those you have the privilege of to loving and serving.