Yesterday was a pretty great day in the Parker family. Eleven years ago Brandy and I arrived home with Mulunesh and Samuel. Mulu, then three and a half, wanted nothing to do with me and Samuel had spent most of the thirty some hours of travel sitting on my lap and urinating. We were exhausted, I smelled like a truck stop bathroom, and we couldn't have been happier.
I remember thinking at that time there is nothing I wouldn't do to protect them and love them.
A few weeks back, after accidentally scaring Abush a bit more than I had intended, I gave him permission to do his best to really scare me. He took the task to heart and consulted his siblings about the best way to scare me. The next day he informed me that they decided the only thing that could really scare me is if something happened to one of the kids. And they had concluded it would be too mean to scare me that way (I very much appreciated their consideration in that matter!). They were right. I am not easily shaken, but it would only take a threat to the safety of my family to get to the core of me.
This last weekend I was reminded of that conversation with Abu as I watched Aschalew paddle out on my kayak to have an adventure. He is pretty good on the kayak and has been practicing every chance he gets, but nonetheless it was a big deal for him to be allowed to paddle out on his own. In a few minutes he was far enough that he couldn't hear me clearly when a huge boat suddenly started barreling down the channel in his direction. For about 30 seconds I had that sickening fear of what could happen—that sense of how vulnerable my son was and, as a result, my heart. Now, Aschalew handled the matter wonderfully; he backed out of the boat's way and then continued calmly to his destination and returned safely.
All of those pictures have been playing through my mind as we approach Christmas. A father's unquenchable love for his children, the desire to protect them from all harm, the sickening feeling when danger approaches. All of it crowds my mind as I contemplate the power of love that our Father felt in sending his son to us. How strong his love must be for us, that he would take on that kind of pain. I imagine it must have been joy mixed with sorrow. Sorrow in knowing that his son would be vulnerable and would eventually suffer death. Joy in knowing his love for us would result in our salvation and that death would not win the day.
Today, in reflecting on my own imperfect love as a father, I am profoundly reminded of my Father's perfect love for me. I am in awe of the fact that we are so dearly and completely loved. Jesus did not merely come to clean up our mess. He came because he and the Father love us perfectly and completely.
No earthly father has ever felt such deep love for his child as your Father feels for you! My prayer is that you will be reminded of that often as we approach Christmas.