Have you ever run across a talk show featuring an episode on parent child reunions? The viewing audience, after hearing the personal story of the individuals to be reunited, is offered an up close and personal front row seat to the first smiles and touches of two people who had for various reasons up until that point been separated from one another. Everyone claps through their tears, the host wraps up the episode with a huge smile and fond farewell, the climatic music de crescendos and everyone goes home.
The guests which were the focus of the show are now left face to face and heart to heart with someone who they were intended to have relationship with all along. This causes them to feel close on one level; and yet they must now walk through the motions of establishing those elements of true relationship perhaps eventually, emotional intimacy. The heart’s longing for that which “should have been” mixed with the reality that relationships are not built in a day must make for an interesting journey. I’ve often wondered how those two individuals proceed with their relationship after the excite of the re-unite.
Although I always remember believing in God, it wasn’t until I was twenty-one that my heart was eternally reunited with Him. Much like the excitement, music and lights were the initial days of my salvation. My entire life had been impacted by the weight of a single decision. In a moment, I went from condemned to saved, guilty to forgiven, tainted to pure and victim to over comer. Never again would I be alone or unloved.
That God shaped hole within was experiencing the first tastes of what had always been intended to fill it. It wasn’t until that point that I was able to realize the insufficiency of previous substitutes. The introduction to my Savior was glorious and I reveled in His peace that transcended my understanding, joy that was my strength, mercy that was new every morning and love that held no limits. It was a sweet, sweet time.
And yet, life goes on. The warm embrace of salvation and the New Birth held firm but the daily reality of life quickly came back into view. I was now face to face and heart to heart with a Savior whom I did not know. As I was mentored in truth I quickly learned that this was a relationship that required more than the acceptance of my Savior…it required the offering of my heart to my Father. Faith, trust, and obedience were apparently key and this is where I struggled.
The facts were, I had never known a Father’s love. Those things that we all think of…Daddy/Daughter dances, strong arms to rescue you, protection, safety, unconditional love and affirmation…these had been the furthest thing from my personal experience. From the time I was two until I was fourteen each man within my life, to include my biological father, my stepfathers and my grandfather had taken their turn as thieves to steal from me sacred things that were not ever meant for them. Sexual, emotional and physical abuse were what characterized my relationship with anyone I had ever called “Father.” Control, manipulation and fear summarized my experiences with those whom I had called “Daddy.”
And so, for a long time, my way of loving the Father was simply to allow Him to love me. Like an infant who is overly tired and has nothing to give, it was a good day when I could rest enough and trust enough to simply allow Him to hold me and offer me comfort rather than flailing about in life consumed by my own misery. Each time I was willing to become vulnerable enough to spend time in His presence, seek His face and hear His voice, He was abundantly faithful, gentle and patient leading me ever so slowly into those deeper places of intimacy with Him.
After years of relationship trust came more easily. He taught me through everyday life that He was faithful, trustworthy and true. As He was faithful to continue the good work that He began within me, binding up my heart and making every broken place whole; the scales of fear, mistrust and suspicion fell from my eyes helping me to see my Father clearly. Like with most relationships, it was our time spent together that made the difference.
Perfect love really does cast out fear (1 John 4:18). Once free to love Him we grew closer at an accelerated pace. I learned that only I determined the limits on how close we could become.
Daddy/Daughter dances, strong arms to rescue you, protection, safety, unconditional love and affirmation? Yep…I know them now; Praise you Father I know them now.