Introducing Children to the Father
I lay in bed with Ethan last night. His head pillowed on my arm. We listened to the storm blowing just outside his window. Ethan is my nine-year-old boy.
Ethan loves football. He thinks about it at least half of the time. Lately, our bedtime routine has involved a new homemade game. I lay on the bed and he sits next to me. One of us will throw a football up to the ceiling and then we play receiver/defender and wrestle over the ball while Ethan gives the commentary, “Interception!” or “The ball is loose,” or “Clark has stripped the ball away. Touchdown! And the crowd goes wild!”
Normally bedtime becomes a frenzied father-son wrestling match. But last night we just lay motionless, mesmerized by the rain that was being blown against the house. Earlier we had stood on the front porch spellbound by the power of the storm. To us, it seemed a small miracle that the trees in our front yard weren’t ripped out of the ground and blown away.
“Ethan” I finally broke the silence. “Do you know that our Fathers presence is here right now? Can you hear Him in your heart” I asked.
“I don’t know dad.” He said. I smiled and continued.
“What’s He saying to your heart right now?” I asked.
“He loves me?” He asked, looking at me for confirmation. I confirmed it with a squeeze. “He does! Do you believe Him?”
My beautiful boy grinned, “Yes.”
“Do you know that He wants to meet with you? Do you know that He dreams of being with you, that He finds you amazing and His greatest desire is that you know His always good love?”
Ethan listened quietly. I knew we were having a God moment.
I continued, “His presence is here, in this room. Let’s just ask Him if He would reveal Himself more to us right now. And then let’s wait in expectation.”
I prayed. “Father, come make your love known.” Immediately our Father, Ethan’s and mine, filled the room with His love. It’s hard to explain but let me try. For the next ten minutes, while I lay there and held Ethan, my body trembled with God’s presence. I literally shook with His love. My physical body was consumed with the knowledge of His goodness. His love was that real. It was wholly unexplainable and absolutely glorious. Ethan lay next to me and we were loved, we knew it, and we laughed.
Now I know this seems mysterious. It was, especially for those not in the room with us. And many times during the edit of this chapter I have wondered if I should tell a different story. Maybe the one where God healed my nieces broken finger, or the one where my brother finally married the woman of his dreams, or the one where my eight-year-old daughter watched angels dance in our back yard, or the one where my friend experienced restoration in his marriage, or the one where we saw miraculous breakthrough in our finances, or…
I chose this story because it is mysterious. It’s unexplainable. In many ways, it doesn’t even seem to serve a purpose. And I love that about my Dad, He is so in love with us that He will just hang out in my son’s bedroom and breath on us until we are convinced, head to toes.
He knows the question, He is aware of the need, He sees the ache, He feels the longing – His love is more than enough.
After a little while, Ethan began to ask questions, “Dad, how do you know God’s presence and if it’s Him speaking to you and not just your imagination?”
“Buddy, our Heavenly Father is always good. His love is perfect. When He speaks to us, it is always about His good love. He is always saying one thing, ‘I love you.’ And He is always asking one question, ‘Do you believe me?’ So if you are unsure whether it’s Him, you simply have to determine if the thoughts and feelings you are having increase your love for Him, yourself, and others (Luke 10:27). If they do, then that’s the Father speaking to your heart and you are in His presence.”
You know, I have discovered that to encounter my heavenly Father in greater measure, I must become convinced in my theology – God is Love and He is always good. When I lean into this faith, regardless of my circumstances, my heart is open for an encounter. I have learned that to the extent that I’m convinced He is Love is to the extent that I can recognize when Love is in the room.
And He is in the room.
We are on a journey of discovery. It’s a journey into the heart of Love. At least, that’s the only journey worth taking. This life, it’s about recognizing, knowing, and becoming love – in that order. And it is a journey. I am daily growing in my awareness of my Fathers love. As I already stated, it’s my life’s true ambition. I would like to suggest it’s yours as well.
And this journey into His love, it starts with simply saying “yes.” It’s the same yes you said that first glorious day you knew your Salvation. It’s the yes that says, my Father loves me, His love is good, and His love is more than enough. While many would like to tell you the journey has changed or grown more complicated, they are wrong. It’s the same beautiful journey. We exist to know the answer to the question; we live to become sure in His love.
When it comes to my kids, I am keen on them experiencing their own encounters with Love. I am intent on my children meeting and becoming familiar with His presence, His love, as I believe it’s the whole point of this journey, it’s the key to living fully, a life of faith, a life where every dream is available and every impossibility is made possible.
Throughout this book, there may be moments where you feel a desire to encounter more of the Fathers always-good love. You may feel a longing to believe that He loves you unconditionally. There may be a moment where you everything in you wants to believe that His love is greater than every other issue or question you are facing – That desire, it is the beginning of recognizing His presence, His voice, His heartbeat, His beautiful love. At that moment, you are feeling His pursuit of you.
When this happens, I would be honored if you would stop reading and simply invite the Father to reveal more of His love. And He will. And it may be as beautifully obvious as a scripture verse or as wonderfully mysterious as a chill running down your spine, but you will know. And it will be good. Why? Because God is love, and His love is always good.
I believe that recognizing His presence and saying yes to His love is the most profound and impactful thing we will ever do…
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story Ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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Wow! A monumentous postscript to your book God is Not in Control! Thanks for leading us in the pursuit of our Always Good, Always Loving Father.