The truth of a father who loves.

The truth of a father who loves.

Recently I had the privilege of hearing two brilliant pastors on different ends of the country speak – live – and directly to me as if they had read the whole messy complicated backstory before their talk began.

First, I listened to Pastor Jim Samra’s teaching all the way from our former church in Michigan (thanks to live web streaming) while I primped and coiffed for a sweet Sunday family adventure. Dr. Samra is beginning the new season, teaching through the first Book of Peter. Today he disassembled the tricky idea of whether we choose God or if He chooses us. And as Jim does with uncommon brilliance, he gave us an insightful example of the truth. He simply said that when two people express their side of any relationship story, they often sound bewilderingly different. Yet, Jim offered, in so many stories, there is no doubt that both sides are completely true.

In our relationship with God, we might say that we ultimately made the decision to choose Him; that we had to be taken to the end of ourselves before we finally gave Him our exhausted heart. Or we might say that we have known God our whole life but weren’t overwhelmed by His love until we ourselves finally let Him in.

But what if we asked God the same question? What would He say about our relationship with him? He would say something different. I loved you from before you were born. I pursued you. I revealed myself to you every day, and invited you into a greater love than you’ve ever known.” 

Samra said, “There’s something incredibly wonderful, incredibly secure, about hearing the story from God’s perspective.”

Steve and I are right now living through a beautiful restoration of relationships that have been badly damaged by divorce and the unfortunate humanness of parents who are hurting and selfish.  Over nearly a decade, many members of this family have suffered from anger and brokenness, each with their own perspective on the situation as it affected them. Indeed, their truth.  And while the stories are each quite different, it’s never reasonable to try to convince any one of them that their experience wasn’t true. We might try desperately to persuade one member or another that our truth has merit and proof and correction of lies, and try really hard to get the other to change their own history book. But they are their truths.

One side says “he left” and the other side knows “you locked me out.” So which truth survives? The only one that matters now. We are reunited with a part of this big family that was separated by hurt.

The fact is, the stories of our lives are ours to own – or to change. The stories of my childhood, of the relationship with my father, of my first failed marriage, have changed as I have learned a teensy bit more to see things how God might see them. Seasoned with study and time and witnessing a greater good, I have learned to first look upward, then look forward.

After I enjoyed Dr. Jim Samra’s sermon, we drove to the SoCal campus of Mark Driscoll’s church with our newly connected eldest son and his beautiful wife.  This would be the third time we saw them as a re-united family, after many years of “seasoning” (or stewing, as it were). Everybody working through the truth – in their time and on their terms. Now, here, this week, the kids invited us to their church and out to a family lunch. There’s a miracle in every word of that sentence, by the way. (Not to mention the fact that I traveled via satellite from Grand Rapids Michigan to Seattle Washington by way of Southern California, all before noon.)

11:00a.m.  Mark Driscoll taught on the first of the Ten Commandments. He opened his new sermon series with a powerful explanation of how the law isn’t fully understood unless we consider the words as they are given from the lawgiver – a loving and patient almighty God. Driscoll spoke about the fatherhood of God; the unquenchable love of a father. And there we were, a row of faces glowing bright with the light from the giant screen, each with our own story of fatherhood, sitting together anticipating something new. Together.

There we were! Together in this place listening, with brand-new restoration of fathers and sons; with many sides to this long story of separation and pain. We stood and sang together, then went out for giant greasy bacon burgers and our words were all pointing toward a new and vibrant future. One in which we can strive to teach the next generation to be even wiser than we were ourselves, and relentlessly, doubtlessly loved.

How did those pastors know, anyway? How could two completely distant and unrelated teachers feed our family’s heart so intricately?

…can’t imagine 😉




  1. Sue Berk
    Sep 27, 2013

    I am just………sigh…..SO blessed by this article, Suzy. God has purpose in EVERYTHING and while we MISS you guys SO much here in Michigan, He has you there for HIS REASONS, that is OBVIOUS, and SO ULTRA EXCITING! LOVE how God does COOL STUFF!!!

  2. Miriam
    Sep 27, 2013

    Love it! Such glorious pictures of faithful shepherds feeding their sheep in this post. And, of course, all glory goes to the Great Shepherd. Such amazing grace.

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