Fatherhood and God's Love - Advent Week 2: Love
Advent Week 2: Love
Fatherhood and God's Love by Nate Susman
I have this photo of the first time I held Nadia in my arms last February. As the hospital staff moved around me, there was a sense of stillness between the two of us. For 9 months of pregnancy, Dianne was essentially giving her a massive embrace. But, for the first time, I could hold her in my own hands.
This Christmas season, I’m reflecting on what fatherhood is teaching me about God’s love. Fatherhood shows up a lot in the Bible. Between its pages, though, I find more examples of crash-and-burn fatherhood than shining heroes. Just in Genesis alone, I see Abraham expelling Hagar and Ishmael, Issac repeating his father’s cowardice by claiming his wife was his sister, and Jacob encouraging jealousy by favoring Joseph over the rest of his sons. Yet against these negative examples, God revealed himself over and over again as Father—a good father. As I reflect on this past year since Nadia arrived, I see a few ways God’s love is made more tangible in my experience.
God Is Near to Us
Now that Nadia has learned to crawl, she knows that if I leave the room she can usually find me again. When I shave in the morning, soon enough I find her tugging at my pant leg. She’s drawn to be with Dianne and myself. In the same way, I love to sit with her and play with her on the floor. I love being with her.
In Isaiah 7:1, the messiah is named Immanuel or “God with us.” God had already dwelled with His people in the tabernacle and temple. But, the coming of the messiah would be different. God would dwell in the form of a man and walk among us. And someday, through His work on the cross, we would have the promise of living with Him forever. God’s love is not distant—it is present and seeks to be near to us.
God’s Love Spans Across Generations
Reading Matthew and Luke’s genealogies for fun never really caught on for me. Like most of us, I usually skip directly to the narrative portion of the account. This said, something about them speaks differently to me now as a father. Here is a family line that was recorded in careful detail. In Matthew’s genealogy there are 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 from David to the Babylon captivity, and 14 from the exile to the messiah (Matthew 1:17).
And yet, although the messiah has already come, God’s plan hasn’t stopped. My name is in a list of people who have heard and responded to the gospel. And in that way, I pray and trust Nadia’s name will be added there too someday.
God Protects Us I save Nadia’s life just about once a day—it’s no big deal. She loves to dive head-first off our bed in the morning, and she particularly loves electrical wires. She loves big wires, little wires, ones plugged in or just hanging around. She has absolutely no idea what’ll happen if she gets a good clean chomp through a live one. At this stage she just knows I get upset and take it away from her.
The people of Israel in the Old Testament lived on the edge of death in a way I don’t fully understand. There was the hazardous trek out of Egypt, a 40-year wandering period, and numerous military battles along the way. And yet, God still preserved them as a people and led them to the promised land. Despite their wandering, He still kept them safe. One of my favorite songs this year is the hymn Be Thou My Vision. Verse 2 has taken on a richer meaning to me in the high points and low points of fatherhood:
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
Be Thou ever with me, and I with Thee, Lord;
Be Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;
Be Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
This Christmas, as we gather with our families, let’s look to the perfect example of God as the everlasting Father who protects and gathers us and our families to himself.