Before Isaiah, Father was a word I said at the beginning of my prayers. On the stormy October night when he was born, I wrote this:

Today I saw my son delivered before my eyes, and as it happened I discovered that I already loved him.

It was the first step in a journey toward the heart of God the Father. Trace it back as far as you can, or care to, and this is what you will find: He already loved you.

 

Yosemite days-13

“If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God.”

 — J.I. Packer

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

— The Apostle Paul

“Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven…”

— Jesus

In the heavenly Fatherhood, the greatness of God is on full display. Not only His glory, but His grace. The tragic, heaven-rending lengths to which He has gone to be near His children. He is a holy and consuming fire that obliterates sin, but He killed His own sinless son so that our condition no longer kept us behind the veil. Now He could draw us in and be gentle with us, and you get the sense that this was the plan all along, from the days of walking with Adam in the garden He had created specifically for their communion, God and man.

I am coming to understand that one could dive into the definition of “Father” in all of its divine fullness and never reach the bottom of the well — not in this lifetime.

I am also constantly amazed at the way God engineered our human relationships to reflect what He is to us: A husband, a shepherd, a captain, a father. If you are looking for them, the parallels are everywhere, and they are deeply profound.

Father is still a word I say at the beginning of my prayers. I wouldn’t dare lift my small heart and messy words to a God who didn’t want to hear from His children. Only now, I understand what it means.

It means He loves me.

I know He does, because in the quiet moments, when Dorinda and I are singing Isaiah to sleep and he reaches up with a soft little hand, half me and half her, all of his bargaining, his illogical resistance and stubborn defiance fade to insignificance. In that stillness, with that warm hand on my cheek, I am left with only a profound affection and my claim to him: This is my son. I am well pleased.