God as the Perfect Father

“Perhaps God is grieved by the good things we miss out on more than the ways that we fail Him.” I have thought about this statement often since I heard it quoted out of a sermon a few months back. Coming from a culture that tends to deeply value obedience and achievement as signs of love and faithfulness, the lavish grace expressed in this sentiment struck me profoundly.  Many of us tend to beat ourselves up about sin or failure. When we do something wrong, or if we have not stayed in step with the Spirit, it is easy to feel as though God is upset with us and that we are not worthy recipients of His love. It seems that the enemy often capitalizes on our shallow understanding of God’s grace and has us stay in a place of despair or discouragement much longer than God intends. Yes, God commands us to “be Holy for He is Holy,” and the Lord tells us to follow Him. But thankfully, He also reminds us that He is a patient and loving Father, and He does not treat us as our sins deserve. His grace is sufficient, and His mercies are new every morning.

As parents to young children who often need to be told multiple times to do (or not do) certain things, it can be quite exhausting to have to exercise patience and extend grace over and over again. Sometimes frustration can get the better of us and we will make it known that we are upset. Even at a young age, Amayah and Malachi can sense when mommy has hit her limit. Even though my levels of patience and grace are limited, I would be heartbroken if my kids thought that their failure to listen caused them to feel unworthy of my love. Sometimes a five minute time out is required for Amayah to understand that it is not ok sit on her brother’s face, or a treat is revoked when behavior is bad. These things are a part of the loving discipline that we are to administer as parents. But if guilt or shame or discouragement is what lasts as a result, then we have failed somewhere along the way, and our kids have misunderstood our heart for them.

We are not perfect parents. We get tired, we get annoyed, we lack wisdom and sometimes the way we act toward our children is not a proper reflection of God’s love. If you contextualize the above quote in a parent/child relationship, any good parent would agree that he or she would be grieved if his or her child thought that their shortcomings mattered more than the many amazing things about them. A simple “I love you” or initiated kiss from my son or daughter can make my heart soar and make the disastrous mess they made at the dinner table seem like a minor inconvenience. Like our Heavenly Father, we desire for our children to experience life and love abundantly – knowing the glorious riches that are found in Christ. We want them to focus on tasting and seeing that He is good rather than feeling discouraged or unworthy because of a failure. Sadly, many people (including ourselves) can sometimes struggle to receive God’s love and grace. Perhaps this is why He urges us to come to Him like little children. Our Father is strong and He is the Creator and Judge of the Universe – but He is also loving, patient, and kind and invites us to experience the many good things that come with the territory of knowing Him and being called His children.

This Christmas we pray you will celebrate the gift of Jesus simply by knowing that He loves you and wants to give you life abundant – and by sharing that gift with others.