Jesus has always been with me, a part of me. He has always been approachable, attractive. My love for him has grown deeper over my years but I can’t remember a time in my life without him.
The Father, however, is a different story altogether.
I know, I know, Jesus and the Father are one and the same, right?
No, not exactly.
One God – Yes. Three distinct persons.
Jesus and I were tight. God the Father….hmmm not so sure about that guy.
To me, God the Father was….distant…and old man with a very long gray beard who watched us from his cushioned seat up in the clouds. (Thanks to Renaissance-era art)
Everyone focused on Jesus most of my life. Jesus loves you. Jesus is my friend. Jesus saved you. Jesus rose from the dead, and Jesus is the one waiting for me in heaven.
But does it end with Jesus? Did Jesus come so that we would only love Him? Did Jesus come only to die on a cross for us and “save us from our sins” so that we didn’t have to? Or is there more to the story?
Yes! Oh yes there is! Jesus himself tells us the real reason He came to us.
Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. John 17:3
If you want to know the real reason Christ came, and basically all you’ll ever need to know about what Jesus wants for you – click on that John 17:3 link and read the whole chapter over and over and over and then you’ll understand.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them. John 17:26
Jesus had (and still has) ONE mission: Show us the Father so that we may know Him (yes in the biblical sense of union) and know His full, abundant, unconditional, ever-lasting LOVE for us.
Recently – like in the last year – I attended a weekend retreat and the focus was on abiding in the Father’s love. (John 15:9) It was at this retreat that I was finally able to really know this and to accept it. At one point in the retreat, the sisters leading us asked to reflect on one question:
What does God want you to know? (Not what he wants you to do – since I’m such a doer all.the.time – but focus on what he wants you to know?)
This question posed to us seemed easy enough but left me feeling…agitated. I didn’t know the answer. So I found a comfortable chair in the retreat center away from anyone else so I could find this answer in quiet solitude. I sat there, thinking and praying…and then…I fell asleep.
Yup. Give a mom some quiet time alone and that’ll happen.
But then, when I woke up, I “heard” the answer deep, deep – almost imperceptible but yet definite.
I want you to know:
I AM your Father.
I love YOU, Erika.
You are my precious daughter, my daughter.
And that was all. After searching and searching for some profound reason, some magnificent purpose to my life or some spectacular calling to do, I finally realized I’ve been asking the wrong question. Instead of agonizing over what I’m supposed to do or what God’s Will is, He really only wants me to know this one thing: He loves me. Always. Forever. No matter what. He says to me, like in Isaiah 43: 1 – 7:
I, the Lord, who created you, have redeemed you, called you by name.
Erika: You are mine.
You are precious in my eyes and glorious. I love you.
I would give anything for you, Erika, my daughter.
Come to me, come and ABIDE in me. I am here with you.
To which I respond:
Father, you are my Father! My One, True Father. I am your daughter, you are my Father. My Papa, mi papi, tu hija, tu hijta.
Through the healing love of Christ – my healer – I have come to know this and to believe this. He heals me through the wounds of the loss of my earthly dad.
My dad used to offer his hand to me – one I too often ashamedly rejected – but he always offered it to me in love, from my earliest memories I can remember his hand reaching to me.
Using that imagery, Jesus takes my hand and walks with me through the painful memories of my dad’s death, the agony and the feelings of abandonment, through the memories of my life with my dad – the good and the bad. Jesus walks with me through all this and shows me the love my dad had for me in his simple, quiet, loyal love for me (even when I didn’t deserve it which was most of the time.)
He shows me this love so that I can know the Father’s love, so I can see that it is God’s hand, the Father’s hand constantly outstretched to me, offering me to come and remain in his love.
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. [Abide] in my love. John 15:9