5 things I learned about God by being a dad
Sure, I’m biased, but my daughter Elodie is pretty darn awesome. She’s only 7 months old but already she’s brought such joy, fun, devotion and love to my wife Amy and I (and our family and friends) that words barely do her justice. She’s our first child and we’re grateful to God every day, for the gift that she is. Awwwwwwwww.
Celebrating my first Father’s Day this year is going to be super. Elodie has been living her whole life so that, on September 6, she can let everyone know how pretty darn awesome her dad is. Joking. But apart from causing me to expect a coffee mug that mentions World, Best and Dad, Father’s Day is a welcomed reminder to me to think about what being a dad is all about.
I’ve learned so much during Elodie’s life that my brain sometimes needs a time-out. But this novice dad has picked up amazing things during his brief but excellent parenting adventure. Among the most wonderful discoveries has been how much I’ve grown in my understanding and love of God. Seriously. Some of the best life lessons I’ve ever had has come from caring for Elodie because it has opened my eyes wider to how God relates with his children.
1. Love, actually
Like a snowball gathering size and speed as it becomes a never-ending avalanche, my love for Elodie has amplified since she showed up on February 12. She hasn’t had to earn it. Doesn’t matter whether she is smiling or crying, singing her little songs or weeing when she doesn’t have a nappy on. It’s not about what she does, but who she is. She’s our child.
I thought I got how God loves his children — those who have been “given the right to be a child of God” by receiving Jesus into their life (as outlined in John 1:1-12). But what Elodie has done to my heart is helping me to grasp God’s heart for his own children more and more.
Being a child of God is a relationship status I can take for granted. As a Christian who fails to always live his life for Jesus, I can forget how mind-blowingly vast God’s love is. God IS love, as 1 John 4:8 neatly puts it. And Elodie offers a constant reminder of that to me.
Elodie is funny. Fact. She has to take a breather during “Tummy Time”. Hilarious. She does backbends in between breast-feeding, because she’s looking around for me. Chuckle. She blows raspberries when she’s eating a mouthful of pureed pear. Hard not to giggle while picking pear out of my eye.
Most days I laugh out loud at something Elodie does. As God sees all that I do, I know he must regularly do the same thing. From the silly to the inspired, I can be funny. And God’s definitely got a sense of humour. Because he made me — and allowed me to be a dad. LOL.
3.Freedom and boundaries
Elodie is her own little person. She’s also the responsibility of Amy and I. We know more about living than Elodie does but she’s got to work out stuff for herself. Elodie will have to learn some things the hard way but we’re going to stop her playing in the traffic. Elodie has her own mind, feelings and personality but we’re going to use our knowledge and experience to assist her development.
Hold the phones! Isn’t that kinda like how God treats us? Providing us with the ability to think and feel for ourselves, while revealing boundaries that aim to shape us into better versions of ourselves? Whoa. As I daily walk the tightrope of encouraging Elodie’s freedom and upholding boundaries that protect and nurture her, how am I doing with the freedom and boundaries God calls me to live with?
4. Bigger picture
Freedom and boundaries brings us to The Bigger Picture. Elodie seems only to be thinking about what’s happening right now but Amy and I are thinking about the many, varied facets of her life. The Bigger Picture, if you will, and how we can lovingly guide her within it. As Elodie reaches for Mr Hedgehog or tries to get the angle right for drinking water out of a cup, her dad knows there is a Bigger Picture going on. There’s more to life and living than just acquiring skills and information. Elodie doesn’t know it yet but she’ll find out how everything from breathing to cleaning under your arms fits into a bigger, complicated system of existence.
I’m not God. Fact. Repeat: I’m not God. I don’t know how or why all things happen. But I trust God does because since the beginning, he’s had a plan. As the early Christian leader Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, God’s purpose for His creation always has been in place. Incredibly, the Bigger Picture — the “mystery of God’s will”, as Ephesians 1:9 calls it — has been shared. And it boils down to who Jesus is, what he came to do and what that can provide to those who believe in him.
The good news of Jesus reveals to us what we really need to know about God’s Bigger Picture and the tiny parts we play within it.
5. No. 1 Son
Who would I like Elodie to grow up to be? How can I help my daughter be the best person she can be? As her loving dad, there are all kinds of things I can say, do or live out that aim to help Elodie have a great life. I want that for her.
As a Christian dad who believes God’s extraordinary son Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), what better care, love and instruction can I give my daughter than sharing him with her? The bond between Jesus and his heavenly father is so mighty, powerful and important that God’s love for the entire world has been best demonstrated through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
What that has got to do with Elodie is, far as I can see it, the greatest help I ever will be able to offer my daughter. Because that’s what God the Father revealed through the giving of his No. 1 Son, for the eternal good of people just like you, me and Elodie.
Ben “Elodie’s Dad” McEachen
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