Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How Deep the Father's Love

I don't know about you, but I personally think I have the best dad in the world!  I'm sure that a lot of daughters feel that way.  But I'm also very aware that many daughters may not have had a good experience with their dad.  So I know I'm very fortunate.  And I'm thankful that I have had an earthly father who represents my heavenly Father so well.  But I'll get back to that...

I currently spend a lot of time on Highway 49 between Hattiesburg and Gulfport and all along US 90.  Hours upon hours within the span of a week.  I'm not complaining...I actually enjoy driving.  I can honestly say that I'm so thankful that I'll be moving to the coast in a couple of months and won't have to make so many trips, but there is a part of me that will miss those several-times-a-week drives.

My usual "M.O." is to put the headphones in, turn on my playlist in shuffle mode and take in the scenery.  This is also prime "me and God" time.  Some trips I sing at the top of my lungs to every song that plays through my headphones.  Some days I just listen.  Some days I don't turn any music on.  But each and every single time I'm in that car I talk with God.  Sometimes it may just be a word of thanks and praise for all He is doing.  Other times it may be my crying out to God asking for answers when I feel like I should just give up.  Sometimes I am overwhelmed and amazed at the beauty I see along the highway...this time of year is gorgeous...with the wildflowers displaying their hues of yellows and purples and the butterflies flitting around without a care in the world.  Yet other times it's almost like an actual conversation...actually it IS a conversation...with me sharing my thoughts and questions and God responding to me with His still small voice.  Those are my favorites.

It's in this "me and God" time that God is doing some of His deepest work in my heart.  He's done a lot of that this year...some of it has been rather painful, some of it has been full of joy.  But each and every instance is a thread in the masterpiece He is weaving in my life.  Last week, during one of my trips, the thought occurred to me:  Don't miss out on the answered prayers and little blessings along the way because you are so focused on the one prayer God hasn't answered yet.  Don't let the delay of one expectation dim the joy of a met expectation.  This epiphany hit me as I was making sure to pay special attention to the beauty around me.  I realized that, had I been focused on the fact that the light didn't turn fast enough or that I was running 5 minutes behind or whatever business issue I needed to deal with rather than focusing on the flowers and the butterflies and even the doe and her fawn running through a field that God so graciously created, I would have missed out on so much.  To some, the beauty of nature may not seem like a big deal.  But to me, to have the gift of sight and sound and smell to be able to fully experience all He has provided is a huge deal.  But how many times have I missed out on those simple joys because I was so focused on a problem I couldn't do anything about at that moment anyway?

So much of my life I have focused on those "big ticket items" so to speak.  The big prayer requests.  Those desires of my heart.  And I get frustrated or worried or worn out in pursuit of them.  How much of that energy that I've wasted on those things...things that God in His wisdom will bring about when He knows the time is right...things that He has an answer to if I will just let go of it and let Him handle it.  And in the meantime, I've missed out on the joy of a simple moment.  I've neglected to thank Him for the little prayers He answers each and every day.  Those seemingly insignificant things that I take for granted.  Just like I would have missed out on the wildflowers and the butterflies and the deer last week had I allowed my focus to be on the problems of the day rather than on the joy of the moment.

Earlier this week I was taking to my dad about life and things going on and things I hoped for and all that good stuff.  Let me preface this by saying that I am so thankful for the relationship and friendship I have with my dad.  I'm thankful that I have this time with him and that we've been able to develop the friendship that we have.  My dad is truly my friend.  He is also a man of few words (unless you really get to know him and then he talks a lot...but that is a story for another day).  So when he says something profound it tends to stick with me.  So as we were talking about those things and the hopes and dreams I have for my life, he told me that he hoped those things happened for me because I deserved it and deserved to be happy.  Of course, my normal self deprecating comment was that I didn't deserve that much.  But he pressed on and told me that I did...as any good father would.  And as our heavenly Father does every day.

This morning during my drive, God brought that conversation with my dad to my mind and used it as a way to help me see that if my earthly father loves me that much and if he would be willing to do whatever it took to provide for me and if he thinks I deserve happiness...how much more does my heavenly Father feel the same?!  It was a very humbling moment.  To think that the Creator of all the beauty I see around me loves me that much!  And the love of my earthly father, as vast as it is, is nothing compared to the love God has for me.  And since He loves me, He longs for me to come to Him and to rest in Him...for the seen and the unseen.  He longs for me to trust Him.  And He desires for me to be joyful and thankful in all of those seemingly small moments (many that I find out later were part of the "working out" of the bigger moments) rather than miss out on them because I am so focused on what I don't yet have.

I want to live in and breathe in each and every moment!  It's so hard to do.  And so many things clamor for our attention...family, friends, relationships, work, starting up your own business, school, life... It can seem like a daunting task.  But our Father longs to help us through each and every moment if we will simply rest in Him.  I am the world's worst at fretting and trying to work things out.  I'm a "fixer."  And I am exhausted.  I wear myself out worrying and trying to plan and trying to do things before it's the right time to do them.  I try to figure out the future and plan my life around how I want things to turn out.  And in the process, I wonder how many of those small moments of joy I have missed out on.

So I'm making it my focus...shifting my gaze toward my Father and resting in His arms.  He already knows the plan and how it all works out...so why should I concern myself with things out of my control.  Especially when His best for me blows my mind time and time again.  Not to say that life doesn't get difficult or that there aren't reasons for concern.  But when that becomes my focus rather than keeping my eyes on Him, that is where the problems begin.  When I realize that He loves me more than I could ever comprehend and He wants the best for me...even if getting to the best takes time or means I have to walk through dark valleys to get there.  Even in the moments that are beyond my human comprehension...He is there.  Loving me.  Carrying me.  Guiding me.

I'm so thankful that God blessed me with an earthly father who represents His love and care to me.  I know how fortunate I am.  Because I know there are many who don't have that experience.  And to you I say, let God surround you with His love.  Let Him be the Father you so desperately want and need.  His promises are true.  Even when we doubt or wonder...He is always faithful.  His ways are not our ways but His ways are good and right and best.  And He loves us beyond measure.  "How deep the Father's love for us...how vast beyond all measure."

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