A while back, my husband and I were eating at a local deli which we love. While we were eating, a couple and their young daughter sat down at the table next to us. There was the usual back-and-forth between parent and child that anyone who’s eaten at a restaurant with a kindergartner would be familiar with. The little girl showed some resistance to finishing her meal, she wanted to get up and move around, she wanted a cookie instead of her sandwich. Her dad eventually leaned in close to her and spoke quietly but firmly:
“I’ve never wanted to spank you more than right now.”
I didn’t know this family, didn’t know their parenting styles or what background they came from, didn’t know if they were Christians or of any faith at all. I’m not the type to interfere with other people’s parenting, but in my heart I wanted to tell the man to apologize to his daughter for planting that terrible seed in her heart.
How many of us have viewed our Heavenly Father this way, just lying in wait for us to test His patience enough that He has justification to spank us? How many of us have lived–or live–under the cloud of God’s supposed disappointment in us, frustration with us, or pending wrath stored up for us?
I know that I lived for years believing that one mistake could blow my whole life, that if I made the wrong move, God’s hand of judgement would come flying in to punish me, or that I tarnished my walk with Him, He would cancel His plans for my life and give them to someone more deserving. If that’s you today, if you fear the Father’s touch more than long for it, please know that the above scenario is NOT His heart toward you.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” –Ephesians 3:17b-18
“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed on Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” –John 3:16
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil.” –1 Corinthians 13:4-6a
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we now have been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!” –Romans 5:8-9
God IS love and shows us love on a daily basis. His love gives us every opportunity to repent from disobedience and return to His heart. His love offers us life abundantly. His love calls us into relationship with Him, not so that we are close enough for Him to punish, but so that we are close enough to be snatched from death and danger. God’s wrath was willingly poured out on Jesus so that we could enter into His perfect love without pretense.
The Father is not out to punish us, but to pursue us with His love, His kindness, His gentleness, His goodness, His faithfulness, and to share His joy and peace with us.
Let the Father love you today.