I officially became a father in early January.
Although I had already been “unofficially” initiated 9 months ago, being able to feast my eyes on my daughter when she arrived triggered something deeper within me. It brought the word, “Father”, to life.
There’s some truth that the spiritual life often parallels the physical life, because my daughter’s birth brought the full-term birth of the father’s heart which had been brewing in me.
Life has been a whirlwind since then, but in the rush, I often find myself stopping simply just to gaze at my daughter. She isn’t exactly doing anything spectacular. But I simply watch her sleep, breathe and just … be.
And even then, I can’t help but be completely mesmerised. She’s completely won my heart.
When she was still in the hospital, I travelled from home for about an hour just to bring her something – hoping to catch a glimpse of her from outside the nursery. It lasted barely 30 seconds, but it was totally worth it.
It made me wonder: “God, is this how You look at me? With the same tenderness, delight and purity of love? Do You gaze upon me and long to be with me in the same way?”
I indulged in the thought for moment, but instinctively stopped myself: How dare I even consider that God could think such thoughts about me?
Each encounter with my daughter engenders new emotions and revelations, and it makes me contemplate what it is to be a father. Every glance I have of my daughter mysteriously stirs and stills my heart at the same time – but where does this all come from?
I am quickly learning that fatherhood is a heart to be carried and not just a function to be played.
The truth is, my daughter has done nothing much since her birth to “deserve” the love that is being poured out onto her. I’m not even sure she knows in her conscious mind that I am her father. I can’t help but ask myself if this is what Paul meant when he said: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Before we even knew God or acknowledged Him – He loved us.
I carry this deep well of affection and love for my daughter which is ready to overflow. What strikes me is that I have no idea where this intrinsic sense of sacrifice and unconditional love stems from – and if it will ever run dry.
Is this the heart of a father? Is this the heart of the Father?
In the first hour after my daughter was born, I had a quiet moment to myself and was suddenly flooded by a myriad thoughts. I wondered how our interactions would go, what we would do to spend time together, whether she would have an inclination to music, art or math. I wondered about her quirks, traits and even contemplated her place in the world as a young lady.
I imagined and dreamt in the span of a few seconds who this little person was and who she would someday become. The thought of being able to care-provide-guide-journey with her – to father – was simply exhilarating.
But amidst the wonder I also felt strangely alone. I felt like no one could understand the gamut of thoughts and emotions within me. It was just then that I sensed the tender voice of God whisper: “Isn’t it a wonderful feeling, becoming a father? I absolutely love it. I too, become a Father to someone new every day, and I love it when they learn to turn to me for all they need”.
It was a revelation that travelled 18 inches from the head straight to the heart! God didn’t just design fatherhood. Fatherhood is born of Him because He is a Father.
Entering fatherhood, I have only received but a glimpse of the great heart He carries for each one of us.
“Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” (Matthew 7:11, MSG)
The scriptures reveal God’s heart for us. God graciously and selflessly reveals who He truly is to us for our sake, repeatedly doing this so we might grow a conscious confidence in His character.
When God tells us in Psalm 121:4 that He “neither slumbers nor sleeps” when He watches over His firstborn, Israel – that isn’t an egoistic declaration of His almighty power. That’s Him assuring us we can be confident in a Father who is both willing and able to care for His children – all the time!
I believe He’s really saying, “Don’t worry about me. I’ve got everything I need, so as to be everything you need.”
I fully appreciate this now, needing to discipline myself to rest so I have the capacity to care for my daughter. I want to give her the assurance that I have what I need in order to give her what she needs. We will always awaken to find a loving Father gazing over us, ready to respond if we should call. That’s why we can cry out in joy, singing: “When I wake up, You are still with me” (Psalm 139:18).
I am quickly learning that fatherhood is a heart to be carried and not just a function to be played. I am a father not because of what I do – but because of who I am to my daughter.
Her confidence is in my character, just as our confidence is in the character of God. This trust will increase as she grows to know me more, just as I am growing in my conscious confidence of who God is – a loving Father. What a beautiful revelation: That He fathers me even as I father someone else.
I’ve had only a foretaste of the Father Heart of God. In wonder, I look forward to lifetime of fatherhood and increasing revelation of His heart for us.
“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:14)