I asked Jesus into my heart at approximately four years old. I was too young to grasp the concept that God had personal plans for my life; I was content to know that He loved me enough to provide a way for me to be saved from my sin, and to spend eternity in heaven with Him one day. I loved Him, and that was enough for me.
As I grew older, and my understanding of sin broadened (what is sin to an innocent four year old is quite different from a maturing preteen, especially if that preteen has see a lot of violence and strife in her young life), I became more aware of just how precious salvation really is. I attended a “youth convention” for Christian teens when I was twelve years old, and it was then – in the nosebleed section, surrounded by thousands of people singing glory to God – that I realized that God wanted more from me than my obedience. He wants a relationship with me that is personal and intimate. He doesn’t just want me to love Him – He wants to love me!
“[We are] brought into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ.” ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, January 24
Knowing that my Christian life was about more than one sided devotion to a god that I could neither hear or see, but that it was a two way relationship, marked a turning point in my young life. My motivations shifted from a desire to please a (fairly impersonal) god who had granted me a release from the sin-penalty of hell, to a vibrant devotion to the intimately involved Father of my soul. I had always loved Him. But finally experiencing His love for me as more than a one time act of mercy at salvation changed my life.
I grew up with a father who was the antithesis of merciful. I have memories of good times spent playing with my father, but none of ever feeling loved or cherished by him. I grew up, too, with the imagery of God as a “heavenly father”. It is little wonder that I was left with the idea of God as someone who had granted me life, but whom I had little hope of truly pleasing, and no hope of love returned to me.
I admit, father imagery in my Christian life still baffles me sometimes. I learned to love God as the “friend to sinners” and as the “lover of my soul”, but “heavenly father” has always eluded me. Even now, watching my husband becoming an incredible father to our baby daughter, my understanding of God as “father” is only just beginning to unfold, like a fragile flower after a long and desolate winter. At long last, after having truly given up hope that I would ever understand this aspect of God’s nature, the unique and incredible relationship unfolding between Nick and Serenity is helping me to catch a glimpse of that father daughter relationship my soul longs for. And for the first time in my life, I sense a stirring of hope that I may one day know what it feels like to be a beloved daughter of a worthy father.