When speaking during a retreat or at one of our Aphesis Group weekend experiences, I will often strongly exclaim, “God’s love and delight for us is deeper than we can ever imagine … however, he is not the least bit impressed with us.” The looks on people’s faces tell me this sometimes sounds confusing. But in reality, our love and affection for our children works the same way.
After only two years of marriage, my wife Renee told me it was her deep desire to start having children. This caused a lot of anxiety for me. I told her I wasn’t ready to be a father; I had enough love for her as my wife but I didn’t have enough love in me for a son or daughter. Reluctantly, I gave in.
Less than a year later, we were in the birthing room at the hospital. With my doubts still very much intact, there I was waiting for this child I didn’t have enough love for to be born. Then it happened. My first daughter arrived. Something happened to me in the first moment of my daughter Savannah’s birth. Love flooded my heart for her. Within the first minute of seeing her I declared to my soul and quietly to the world, “I love this little one with all my heart…I would die for this little girl. If anyone threatens this little one, they will feel the full weight of my wrath.” All doubt about having enough love and about my being a father quickly faded.
Why? What happened?
It’s simple, really. When I saw Savannah for the first time, it took only seconds to realize I was looking at a reflection of my image and the image of the woman (Renee) I adored, and love poured into my heart. Savannah reflected the image of us! She was a product of our love and delight in each other. The births of each of our four children had the same effect on me. To this day, I am as moved and amazed as I was in those first moments. My children are now all adults, but as I look at them I still see this blend of my image and my wife’s image. Its effect on me is still the same. I’m still crazy in love with our image bearers.
At first sight I fell in love with my daughter Savannah; however, I was not the least bit impressed with her. She couldn’t stand up, walk, talk, work, or really do anything of use. As a matter of fact, her deficits far outweighed her assets. She produced all kinds of smelly disgusting messes and didn’t add any productive value to our new family, yet our love and delight in her was deeper than words can adequately express. Our love and delight was not because of her potential or what we thought she would become; our love and delight was in who she was to us AS IS!
It is only after I became a father that I could begin to grasp the mystery of God’s love and delight in me. I am a reflection of his image! God is not the least bit impressed with me or my abilities or what I can do, just as I was not impressed with Savannah’s abilities or what she could do. I’m convinced God is not impressed or favorably influenced by ANY of our gifts, abilities, or accomplishments. He does not love us for what we can do, but rather he loves us with the love and delight of a Creator and, even more so, the love of a father and mother who see in their offspring the image of themselves. God the Father’s love and delight for us goes as deep as his relationship with his Holy Son Jesus. The thought is mind blowing, astonishing, profound, and humbling. Those moments that I can move this thought from my head to my heart are transformational.
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one I in them and you in me so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.