Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Father's Love

Today I had to take my two year old daughter to get a simple blood draw. It was the first time we have had to do this since we became her parents back in December. To all my friends who are experienced parents this may seem laughable (or maybe you remember back to a moment you felt the same way) but this was perhaps the most horrible experience of my life. I had to be the one to hold her arm still while they stuck her. As she screamed and wept and looked for me to defend her, the betrayal in her face as I was instead the one holding her down and subjecting her and forcing her to endure the pain, it was more than I could bear. The first vein would yield no blood, so I had to then take her other arm and do it again. I know, I know. She has long forgiven me and forgotten the whole thing, and most of your children have been through things far more serious than a couple of little needle pricks. I know that I will have to endure far worse with her myself if, by God’s grace, I live to raise her. But this was the first time I have had to do anything like that, and it brought out emotions I had never felt before. I’d never wanted to punch a nurse for doing her job perfectly well. I had never felt the searing pain of seeing that accusing look in my daughter’s tear soaked face, and yet to persist in aiding in her pain because I know it is the right thing. I am new to fatherhood, and to this side of love, and it hurt. A lot.

I am not big on speculating about the emotional states of biblical characters. I don’t think that’s generally the point. But I do think there is something to be said for the fact that the faith of Abraham is held up in scripture as the faith that all believers are to aspire to. The faith that was ultimately expressed in a willingness to lay down the life of his own son. I have never been able to imagine what that moment on mount Moriah must have felt like, but now I find my eyes literally growing moist just thinking about the scene. Would I have put Lexy on that altar? Would I have trusted God enough to do what Abraham did? Do I have a faith that would pass such a test? I realize now more than ever just how frail my faith truly is. The faith of Abraham is a wonder to me, and of Isaac for that matter, who seems to have submitted to the whole thing right to the end.

I recently read a striking passage in work by Messianic Jewish scholar Dr. Michael Brown where he reported:

“There is a midrash that says at the time of creation, when God was about to make man, the angels asked what man's significance was. One of his answers was this: 'You shall see a father slay his son, and the son consenting to be slain, to sanctify my name' (Tanhuma, Vayyera, sec 18). That was the height of sacrificial service: A father offering his own son, and the son willingly laying down his own life for the glory of God. Yes, I know that sounds like the gospel. In fact, the midrash compares Isaac, who carried on his shoulders the wood for the burnt offering (himself), to 'one who carries his cross on his own shoulder'"

This brings me to an even greater point. God the Father loved me enough to send His own Son to be beaten and mocked and murdered in my place. God the Son loved not only me, but loved His Father enough to willingly go to that end, to redeem a wayward and wholly unworthy people, least of all a faithless wretch like myself, for the eternal glory of the Father. The unimaginable love within and pouring out from the triune God is simply beyond comprehension! As the hymn proclaims so well:

“How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory”

At every stage of life I seem to find new reasons to have my breath taken away by this awe inspiring reality. Words simply cannot describe the greatness of our God, and the incomparable magnitude of the greatest act of love the world has ever known, made more indescribable still by how completely and utterly undeserved it is and how truly unable we are of returning such love in kind. If this is not a reason to walk in the faith of Abraham, I can’t imagine what would be. In the end, God did not require Abraham’s son, He instead required His own.

My Brother once wrote a song relating to our own father's struggle back when my brother was eight year old and required open heart surgery. It is worth a listen:

Luke Wayne is a bi-vocational Baptist missionary in Utah and the chief editor for Perilous Trails. He holds an MDiv from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an MA in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist College. He has served as a church planter in Olathe, KS and a Homeless Shelter Manager in Kansas City, MO. He is also a husband, father, fisher, hiker, security officer, and raiser of livestock.  

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