My husband is a strong man. But, as our five children well know, he’s also a sentimental softie when we reach certain milestones. With each graduation, each moving out, and each wedding, there comes a moment when Jim will cry. Whether it be a speech or a toast or a quiet moment hugging goodbye, their big, strong father will break down in tears. This spring and summer, our youngest child graduated from college, will move to Austin to begin his new job, and marry his childhood sweetheart. It’s the Great Sentimental Milestone Trifecta. We’ll need tissues. Lots of them.
Jim’s tears spring from a deep well of love for our children. There are, however, tributaries of regret which flow through his heart. Opportunities missed, unfulfilled plans, whispers of inadequacy—did he do enough? Did he prepare them to go out and live in this world? Indeed, can any earthly father do enough?
Among the many word-pictures in scripture given to us to help us understand God, “Father” stands out. The first person of the Godhead isn’t only the Father to Christ, his eternal Son, but throughout scripture he calls himself Father to those he draws to himself, his adopted children. Through the prophet Hosea, God speaks these sweetly paternal words to Israel:
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
. . . . it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
. . . . I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them. (Hosea 11:1, 3, 4)
A Father With No Regrets
Even though no earthly father can live up to the perfections of our heavenly Father, we still recognize in these tender passages the heart that beats in the chest of so many fathers we know and love. The imperfect love of our fathers points us to the perfect love of our heavenly Father, who will never weep for opportunities missed or hold regrets that he didn’t do enough for his beloved children.
Our greatest need, after all, wasn’t anything our own fathers could have provided for us, for it is their need as well. What we most need is to be saved from sin and death and to be brought into a loving relationship with God. That need, and every true need we have, was met in Christ. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul traces the abundance of blessings which our heavenly Father showers upon us in Christ, and he begins with, well, all of them!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (1:3).
Showered With Blessing
Having established the all-encompassing nature of our Father’s blessings, Paul runs down a glorious list, beginning with election: [God the Father] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world. The purpose behind our election is that we should be holy and blameless before him, and the motive is love (1:4). We aren’t saved to merely be obedient servants, but his children, for he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (1:5) which is to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (1:6) What does our election and adoption entail? In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, which isn’t measured out to us by teaspoonfuls, but is according to the riches of his grace (1:7), which he lavished upon us, not on a whim, like when my husband walks through a gift shop with the kids, but in all wisdom and insight (1:8). God doesn’t leave us in the dark when he’s saving us, but he makes known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ (1:9). That will is a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth (1:10).
As children of the Father and in Christ, we have obtained an inheritance, (1:11a). And in case you missed it the first time, we have been predestined according to the purpose of him who —by his sovereign power— works all things according to the counsel of his will (1:11). Why? So that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory (1:12) —our salvation brings our Father glory! Furthermore, In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (1:13), and this is a most precious gift because he is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, which is, once again, to the praise of his glory (1:14).
Someday God’s children will each graduate from this life, move to the eternal home our Father has prepared for us, and be forever wed to our heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. If you are a child of God, your wise heavenly Father has missed no opportunities to do you good, and his gracious plans for you have been and will be lavishly fulfilled in his deep, deep love for you. He has not only done enough—he has done and will continue to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (Eph. 3:20).
All to the praise of his glory.
About the Author:
Barbaranne reads, writes, cooks, runs, and shoots an occasional photo in Texas. She and her husband Jim are the parents of five of the neatest people they know and grandparents to the first two of (hopefully) many grandchildren. She has been blogging ever since she accidentally signed up for a blog while attempting to comment on a friend’s blog post and figured, “Why not?” She now blogs at Grateful and Women of Purpose, a ministry of the women of her church. Barbaranne and Jim are members of Christ Presbyterian Church in New Braunfels, Texas, where she leads a Bible study for women in the hope that she and they may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.