In this season of life there has been one song that continues to be fresh air to our struggling lungs: “How Deep The Father’s Love”
When I sit down to spend time with the Lord in the morning it’s the first song that gets chosen. When Davy is having a difficult day we sing it over her. When we get into the car, completely exhausted, it’s the first song that get’s played (typically my brother Jimmy McNeal’s version!). For whatever reason, the song strikes a note that reverberates holistically – mind, body, and soul – for our family.
Yesterday, as we were spending time with our little girl, God gave me a moment where that song began to embody deeper significance.
Davy girl has been doing so well lately; however, yesterday was a more challenging day. She’s had some difficulties with feeding so they had to give her an NJ tube to help digest the milk. She wasn’t the happiest of campers when she came back from the procedure. Later that evening Davy became inconsolable. Her face turned luminously red while contorting it into every sad face imaginable. She began to cry incessantly with her distinct gravely, hoarse voice. Her arms and legs flailed wildly as if she was fighting off invisible foes.
We tried everything we knew to attempt to soothe her. Change diaper? No. Swaddle. Not feeling it. “Shushing”? Nope. Patting? Definitely not that feeling that either!
NOTHING seemed to work.
Chelsea then recommended that I hold her. At first, I was skeptical. In my mind, our daughter would have to be transitioned out of the crib to my arms and that was going to just make her more irritated. I was definitely not desiring a more irritated baby, yet I was open to giving it a shot. Once the nurse got everything situated, we laid her chest on my chest and she instantly calmed down. She stopped crying, her oxygen saturation stabilized, and then just stared at me with her deep, beautiful eyes.
After a few seconds of staring fixedly at my daughter, I turned to Chelsea and told her that I absolutely cherish being a father. The amount of overwhelming love I have for this little girl is incalculable and inexplicable. There is not a word that could describe it, a poem to expound upon it or a song that could encapsulate it.
“IT” – this overwhelming emotion – stands alone.
As I just let my daughter fall asleep on my shoulder I began to think about our Heavenly Father and the opening line of “How Deep The Father’s Love”.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
In that moment those lines were illuminated more radiantly for me. If I love my girl in a way that’s indescribable and overwhelming, then how does God feel about His children? How does God feel about me?
The Scripture tells us that He loves us so much, that He sent His only son to die on a cross on our behalf! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Are you kidding me?!? What type of love is THAT? Would I send Davy to take the place of sinners deserving of wrath who were my enemies? (Rom. 5:10)? Absolutely not, yet God, out of his overwhelming love for us, did just that.
So often, I relegate God to the status of employer, judge, or emotionally distant father, but that is not how he wants to be seen! How do I know this? Two reasons: 1) The Scriptures tell me otherwise. 2) I would never want Davy to think of me as ANY of those things.
God desires to be seen as a loving, kind, and compassionate Father. That’s why the Scriptures say that once we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons and daughters, through Christ, we cry out “Abba!” – or “Daddy!” to Him (Rom. 8:15). That term, is a term of intimacy and closeness. He’s not an employer, judge or emotionally distant father. He is our “daddy”, who loves us intimately, is always present, and remains steadfast to His children.
He is our Heavenly Daddy who loves us (1 John 4:10), has compassion for us (Ps. 103:13), desires to give us good gifts (Matt.7:11), comforts us (2 Cor. 1:3-5), cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), lovingly disciplines us (Heb. 12:5-11), knows us intimately (Ps. 139), speaks tenderly to us (Hosea 2:14), is patient with us (1 Tim. 1:16), instructs us (Ps. 32:8), provides for us (Ps. 23:1) has made us co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17), has forgiven us (Eph. 1:7) and delights and sings over us (Zeph. 3:17).
THAT is how God wants to be seen. That’s how I want Davy – in a temporal, imperfect sense – to see me.
No matter where you are in your faith journey God desires to be seen as a Father. He’s not standing there with his arms folded and emotionally distant controlling the world from afar as my friend Fabs wrote about recently. No. He’s the type of Father that when you’ve been living far away from Him, squandering your life away in sin, still comes running towards you to embrace you and welcome you home (Luke 15). He’s the type of Father who will leave the 99 to come find you when you’ve gone astray (Matt. 8:12-14). He’s the type of Father who weeps when you weep (John 11:35). He’s the type of Father who will give you rest when you are spiritually dry (Matt. 11:28). He’s the type of Father our earthly fathers point us toward. He’s the type of Father we all need and long for to satisfy us.
At the end of the night I didn’t want to leave my little girl. It broke my heart to take her off my chest, put her back in her crib and not be able to take her home with me. Nevertheless, I was grateful that God gave me a glimpse at the overwhelming love He has for His children, myself included, and to be reminded that my fatherhood serves a purpose to point my little girl to the true and better Father.
My role is to love Davy with all the love my broken and imperfect self can muster up and be a North Star guiding her towards a Father who is perfect, unfailing and whose love is vast beyond all measure.
- Davy’s Stomach – Davy’s stomach has been having some issues and hasn’t been functioning as it should. Pray that it would start working properly.
- Surgery – The doctors told us that if Davy’s stomach doesn’t start working properly we might have to have another surgery. Pray that we wouldn’t have to go into surgery again!
- Light – Pray that Chelsea and I would continue to be a light in the NICU. As the days continue it can be harder to keep the same intensity of wanting to love and serve those around us. Ask that God would give us strength and compassion.