Growing up I loved God very much, but I was always very afraid of him. I feared His punishment, His anger, feared that He would turn His back on me, reject me if I do something wrong and disappoint Him. I had no example of the love, compassion and grace of a father that the Bible speaks about, so all I did was associate disobedience and wrongdoing with punishment.
1 John 4:18 declares that “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” It was only in adulthood that I realised my struggle to fully comprehend this love. I struggled to accept that His grace could cover all my imperfections and that He could love me no matter what.
I have learnt along the way that the true essence of God’s love for us is captured in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6, which says: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
We all have different ways of dealing with pain and disappointments. I have the tendency to withdraw, rather than to reach out to people. I tend to do the same with God. I become so consumed with nurturing my pain rather than laying it at God’s feet. But God is so patient with us. Even when we turn away from Him, He never turns His back on us. He stays God. He sits on his throne watching how we throw our tantrums, how we try and deal with life on our own and He waits for the moment of our return. He is slow to anger, not easily offended and never reminds us of our wrongs. He protects us from the shame of our mistakes – he never dishonours us. But most of all, He knows that we are more than our pain and circumstances. He trusts, hopes and perseveres – He trust that we will seek the truth, He hopes that we will realise who He really is, He perseveres and waits for us, He never gives up on us.
And even now, while I’m at a low point in my life, where I push him aside to focus on my own pain, my own grief, my own nothingness, I still feel his love surround me and his holy spirit guide me. I’m absolutely amazed at His grace and the knowledge that nothing we could ever do would ever be able to separate us from His love.
I often call him daddy, and every time I hear the words, I cry. I still find it hard to accept it, but I’ve finally found the love that I was searching for all my life. The unconditional love of a father who is tender, kind, compassionate and full of grace. The kind of love that covers me, hems me in on every side, protects me and comforts me.
He knows I’m a work in progress, that He alone is perfect and that I sometimes miss the mark. But I rest in the promise that He’s always by my side. I rest in the promise that He loves me and He will never give up on me.