In the living room of my childhood home sat a burgundy coloured Lazy Boy chair. The chair was upholstered in Naugahyde, a vinyl coated fabric that looked like leather. It was unlike any other piece of furniture in the room.
This special chair belonged to my father. As a child, I enjoyed the smooth texture and imposing size of this chair. I felt very grown up sitting in it. I knew, however, that it was not my chair and would vacate it in a hurry if I heard my father drawing near.
As I was reminiscing about this an even more important chair came to mind. It was the chair or throne of my heavenly father. I know this is not my place to sit but sometimes I can’t resist the urge to picture myself there. From this lofty perch, I attempt to rule my life. After all, don’t I know what’s best for me?
The simple answer to that question is, “No.” God is the one who knows the beginning from the end. He knows the plans that have been laid out for my life and the best way to achieve them. I tend to make a mess of things when I think I can handle life on my own. Fortunately, God can turn my mistakes into good – but only if I hand control back to him. These times serve as a good reminder that I am not God and shouldn’t be climbing up into his chair.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
My father didn’t know how to relate to his children. Men of his generation didn’t show emotion, so while I’m sure he loved his children; there was never any expression of his feelings.
I was an unexpected late-life child and experienced a mellower father than my older siblings. He even took the time to teach me the game of cribbage. That’s how I knew he cared. He showed love as instruction and not hugs or words of encouragement and praise.
When I was 23 my father passed away. I loved him but was sad to realize that I never really knew him and grieved for the relationship that was never to be.
This experience made it difficult for me to understand God as a loving, heavenly father. It was hard to relate to something I’d never experienced. When I was told that God loves me unconditionally and will never leave me, it sounded too good to be true. Surely if I spoke out of turn or misbehaved that love would be taken away.
What I now know is that no earthly father, no matter how loving, can measure up to the devotion God has for me. He has walked with me through joy and sorrow. He has been my strength in times of need. He freely shares his wisdom and has guided me to achieve dreams I never thought possible.
Although I have disappointed God many times he continues to love me. I am forever in debt to my heavenly father who has shown me the meaning of unconditional love.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NLT)