My five-year-old daughter has been calling me “mama” lately. There is a tenderness to it, making me want to weep and scoop her up at the same time. The story of our life with each other has a familiarness to it. A bond known only by her and I, daughter and mama. I am hers and she is mine, and I don’t ever want to the story to be different.
Recently, I heard a friend of mine describe her relationship with God. She described it as a love story which God invited her to be a part of. And it really is. A relationship with Him is a love story that each of us is invited to be written into.
For most of my upbringing and young adult life I didn’t really view God as the author of a love story. Instead, I viewed Him as punitive, distant and rather uninterested in a relationship with me. My earthly representation of a father-daughter relationship was a fractured experience. I say that with an awareness of my part in it that has come with healing, forgiveness and compassion. As I lived amid that challenging experience, I didn’t realize the profound effect that parental fractures could have on a person’s view of God.
One of the best things that ever happened in my life was when my view of both God and the world was shattered. It was through a personal tragedy and the deep brokenness that followed refocused my view. Sometimes there are things in my heart and perspective needing to be shattered, just like a bone that heals improperly and needs to be reset.
It was at the lowest point of my life when the transformation occurred. I was a stranger incarcerated in a foreign land, drowning in grief and neck deep in my own shame. In that place, God became a Father to me for the first time in my life.
God was no longer just a divine and sovereign mystery. Finally the unreachable and unknowable God became personal to me. I began to know Him intimately and personally. The One who had been pursuing me my whole life was finally allowed to let my heart into this love story. He became tenderness, a love that fought for me, and a good Parent that would never consider the thought of leaving or forsaking me.
In Matthew 16:15-20, to the disciples, "Jesus asked, 'But what about you? Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'”
I think this is the question Jesus asks to every person who claims to have relationship with Him. Who do you say that I am? Knowing who and Whose we are changes everything.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
When someone loves you at your worst and at your lowest, you don’t ever forget it. This is who God is for me. I have learned through many seasons of walking with the Lord that He has no desire for me to serve Him out of religious duty or obligation, but He longs for intimacy and to be known by me, just as I desire to be fully known and to be understood.
As I began to grow in my knowledge of God, and in who I am to Him, my heart began to naturally align towards a life that was and is pleasing to the Father. I used to think it was the other way around. The more I tried to clean my life up, the closer I would feel to God.
How wrong I was. God desires my heart above all else. Yes, I must strive to be my best self. Yet, when I fall short, as I often do, God does not abandon me. That is not His character. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it is to Him when I have misperceptions about His character. About the loving Father that He is. Time and again, God has proven me wrong, and I am eternally grateful!
Father, Thank you for wrapping yourself in human flesh and entering the human narrative. Thank you for loving me in spite of my flaws and human messiness. Thanks for being a good Father who never leaves. Help me to know more of you. Amen.
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