"Our Father who art in Heaven ..." --Matt 6:9
I never thought a whole lot about the "father heart of God." I mean, it's a nice notion for me as I had a great Dad. It gives me warm and fuzzy feelings, but beyond that superficial sentiment, I really hadn't given it a lot of thought until recently.
While stranded on the east coast of the United States waiting for a flight back to Germany, we stayed with some dear friends who have and are weathering more than their share of difficulties. A couple months earlier they had celebrated the big news. They were becoming grandparents for the first time. But the days of joyous celebration were soon tempered by bigger news. Not long after their daughter announced she was expecting, her husband discovered he had cancer.
It was a severe blow to the young couple with so many hopes, dreams and plans laid out before them. Those images of nine exciting months of anticipation culminating in the emergence of precious life now took a back seat to the realities of surgery and regular chemo treatments. Her morning sickness and pregnancy weakness would be compounded by his chemo nausea and treatment recovery. And what would the final outcome be?
While we stayed in the house with our friends, a call came in one afternoon. Their daughter's husband had developed an infection at the surgery site and he was being rushed into surgery. A heaviness hung over the household. And it was there I saw the father heart of God manifested so clearly in human flesh.
Knowing his daughter's fear and anguish, this loving father could not eat nor socialize. His heart was too wrapped up in her hurts. He excused himself and took the dog for a walk. He needed to be alone with His Heavenly Father. Because his daughter hurt so deeply, he hurt too. Maybe not exactly in the same way. Maybe in a deeper, different way. But he cradled her hurts in the fullness of his fatherhood.
When he returned the phone rang with news we'd all prayed for. Everything was alright. They got the infection taken care of and the young husband was back on track in his healing process.
A wave of relief flowed over the household. And the loving father's whole demeanor changed. He joined us for dinner and could laugh and enjoy life again.
By witnessing this event, I was awakened to what the father heart of God is all about. A father does not simply cradle his child as an infant. He cradles his child every day of his/her life. He takes in to his deepest being every ache, every pain, every joy, accomplishment and celebration. He cradles that child's spirit in the crux of his own existence, because somehow those existences are inextricably linked.
That's what our Heavenly Father does for us. That's what "Our Father who art in Heaven ..." is all about.
So the next time you are reciting the Lord's Prayer and you open up with those words "Our Father," take a moment to remember my friend and know that your Heavenly father aches with you and celebrates with you -- only more so, much, much more so.