A Father's Love
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
I have been blessed to have three biological children. I never knew how much love I could have for someone until the day each one of them was born. Upon their arrival into this world, I loved them instantaneously, a love like no love I had ever felt before. I know as a father I have my shortcomings when I step on Legos for the 1 billionth time, I get upset. When I have to say "get off electronics and go to bed", for the 10 thousandth time and I don’t have the patience and love that I had the first 9,999 times. However, despite my flaws, I hope that at the end of the day my children know how much I love them. Why? Because I tell them, every day, multiple times a day, how much I love them.
Despite the fact that I only have 3 biological children, I know that for some of the children and youth I work with, I also serve as a father figure. Sometimes, they have father’s who love them, but they don’t want to talk to their dads about certain things, so they come to me. Others don’t have such a good relationship with their fathers, so I become “Best in Show.” (A term used in dog shows, not meaning I am the best, rather that I am the best in their circle of men in their lives).
For some, it is easy to talk about God as the loving, caring father in heaven, who would do anything, including die on the cross, out of love for God’s precious children. Others it is more difficult. I have always known this but had the opportunity of that misplaced anger this past week.
This past Friday, I was working on my sermon for Presbytery when I received a call from my wife about a student at her school. To make a long story short, I was called as he was having an episode and they couldn’t get him to calm down. It was at the point where the police might have to get involved unless something else could be done. So, when Becca called, I asked, “What can I do?” She said, “He listens to you and respects you, and you are the closest thing to a loving Father he has, I don’t know if you can do anything, but you have to do something.”
So I did what, in my opinion, anyone should do, I hopped in my car and headed down to help. An hour later we got him where he needed to be, without the police, but he was still angry. In his anger, he lashed out at anyone who was near. Saying he hated me. Saying I am not his dad. Claiming I was stupid and that I had a “fat head and no hair!”, which I can’t deny. All the while I told him I loved him, and it didn’t matter how mad he was at me, I wasn’t going to leave. In that moment, despite the anger that was heaped my way, God gave me peace. After about 10 minutes, once he realized there was nothing he could say or do that would get me to leave, he calmed down, and we began to talk. We talked like I would talk to my own son if in the same situation.
Why do I tell this story? Because in that moment, despite having kids of my own, I could see God’s love being poured out in me. It made me realize how we often do the same thing to our heavenly Father. We get mad and we scream, “Why did you let this happen!!” “I hate you.” “Why do you even care?” “You aren’t my father!” Yet, God, out of his love for us just sits and waits. Out of his love for us, He waits. Even when dying on the cross and people are yelling insults at him, Jesus, out of his love utters the words “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
I know that God is not male or female, but as humans, we experience God’s love in the same manner that we experience love from each other. So what does God’s love look like to someone who is outcast? Who has no mother or father? Who feels abandoned? Who suffers bullying at school or work? Who are alone in their hospital bed with no one to care for them? What does it look like? It looks like you and me.
Father, Son, Husband, Brother, Friend, created in the image of God, yet far from perfect.