“ . . . for he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you.”
Exodus 34:14b NLT
I stood in the hallway as my father took the call. He sat on the edge of the bed and listened intently, occasionally asking a question. His baritone voice sounded calm and collected as he said, “Thank you” and hung up the phone.
Then I saw my father do something I’d rarely seen: he fell across the bed and sobbed. His only son had died.
My older brother, Phillip, had been born brain damaged, a deaf/mute with a host of mental and physical challenges. My parents had tried to care for him at home as long as possible, but the task had become too arduous both physically and emotionally for them. Subsequently, Phillip was placed in an institution for the mentally disabled.
I stood there that day trying to feel my father’s anguish. I tried to imagine my father’s delight at hearing the words, “It’s a boy.” I tried to envision the gleam in his eye when he saw his son for the first time; to feel the joyous cadence of his heartbeat the first time he held that son. What hopes had he had for him? What dreams? What desires? This was the son he had longed for. This was the son he had prayed for. This was his beloved, formed in his image and likeness. This was the one who would carry on the family name.
I listened as my father wept, recognizing that these tears were not only for the loss of a life, but the loss of a lifetime– a lifetime of dreams and hopes. The fact that he had not been able to form the intimate bond that a father desires with a son had not lessened that love nor lessened the pain. The fact that he had been separated from that son for years had not lessened the love. The fact that his son had never heard his voice nor been able to respond to that love had not lessened it.
And I believe until the day he received that phone call, my father never abandoned the hope that his son would return to him and they would share the love that father and son were meant to share. He longed to demonstrate that love so there was no question of its magnitude. He longed for his son to experience the many facets of that love. I know, despite the circumstances, there remained a place in my father’s heart that only Phillip could occupy, and love ever called him to come and dwell there. The loss never lessened the love. The love remained strong.
Such is a father’s heart.
Such is our Heavenly Father’s heart! His is a heart that burns with a longing for us. His is a heart that is zealous for each of us in a very real and personal way. His heart beams with delight in loving us and swells with joy when we return that love to Him. It is a heart that boils with an everlasting, unconditional love that does not cool in its intensity, that is not lessened by separation or lack of relationship.
In fact the Hebrew word for love is ahab and it denotes a boiling, a burning passionate desire. It connotes a strong emotional attachment for and a desire to possess and be in the presence of the object of love We so often think of our desire to possess and be in His presence, but we often fail to see that His love for us is so fervent that He desires always to be with us and demonstrate in a myriad of ways the love that He is. Moses revealed this loving heart of God to the children of Israel. He reveals this heart to Moses on Sinai: “for he is a God who is passionate about His relationship with you.”
This is our Father’s heart of love for us!
Father God’s heart so abounding with love for us that it continually seeks to draw us back into that place of holy integration, holy oneness with Him and grieves when we don’t respond. He wants us to know this love in its fullness, to know the breadth, the length, the depth, the height of it. But know it know it on an intellectual level, but experientially. He wants us to encounter His love, to live in and from it in such a way that we are transformed by it.
“My Child, I have prepared a place for you inside My heart and it is a place that only you can occupy. My heart yearns for you to come and reside inside My heart. It is a love unlike any you have ever experienced. It is the same love wherewith I love My Son, Jesus. As you embark on this journey, know that it is a return to Love. It is a return to My heart. It is a return to My glory. It is a familiar place for it is the place where you began. All I have done in sending My Son to be the atoning sacrifice for your sin was to bring you back to this place. I call you now to come inside and know My heart, live from the love I am for you”
This Father’s Day let us all rejoice in the love that flows perpetually from our heavenly Father’s heart to ours.