'What do you think of Heavenly Father?'
by Christie Browning
A few Sundays out of the month, I get to teach the teen girls ages 16 to 18 in Sunday School. You can imagine that the conversation is never lacking. They always enter the room with a lot of energy and enthusiasm about what might be planned for the week, what they experienced that weekend or the latest story line to unfold at school or work.
As much as they could go on and on about their social lives, when it comes down to the lesson, these gals are dialed in. They never cease to amaze me when it comes to their love for studying and learning. On a particular Sunday, one of the girls asked if we could put aside the lesson and take time to just talk about God. She wanted to ask questions about some things she was struggling with and the other girls eagerly nodded in agreement. So, that’s just what we did.
The conversation started with her asking a question: “What do you think about Heavenly Father?”
No one said anything for a few moments. I think we were all trying to formulate a response to such a loaded question. She expounded on her question to say, “How would you describe Him or what do you think He is like?” The girls began offering their stereotypical responses until she interrupted and said, “I think He is watching me mess up. I want to do what is right, but I keep messing up. I know He is disappointed. Can’t He just see that I want to please Him so badly? How do I get better at making Him happy with me?”
My heart sank when I heard her comments. She genuinely was looking for away to “be better.” It was like a cry for help, she was desperate for a solution. I know that feeling all too well. I wish I could tell you that I offered her a miracle solution, that I whipped out the perfect scripture to assure her all was well or that I weaved together some theological answer that squelched any doubt she was feeling. But, all I could really tell her was that I knew how she felt.
I know what it feels like to mess up, to fail, to fall and to imagine God sitting in Heaven, shaking His head at the screw up I am. I know how paralyzed I can feel when I am torn between choices that are equally good, but uncertain about what God wants me to do. I have waged war in my heart and mind over decisions to make and paths to choose. All the while I am desperately searching for some divine clue as to which one is what He would want me to choose. In those moments, I have had to learn that there isn’t a scripture that makes it all clear, but there are scriptures that bring into focus the true attributes of Heavenly Father. These are the truths I know:
· Heavenly Father looked at the world in 1977 and decided it wasn’t complete without me in it. He wove together all that I am and would be in those initial moments and even when He knew that I would not be perfect, that I would screw it all up at times, He still chose to have me live in His world as His daughter.
· Heavenly Father is kind, loving and forgiving. I know this because of my own experiences. When I make mistakes or need His forgiveness, I get it and still have a place at His table, I am still an heir to the kingdom, I am still a recipient of His many blessings. I also know this to be true because of all the stories and accounts of people’s lives in the scriptures as well as those believers I know personally. There’s a reason God wanted people like Paul and Peter and Martha to share their stories. He knew we would need to look at them and see evidence that He loves us even still.
· I know Heavenly Father to be bigger than my mistakes. I can’t derail things so bad that He can’t turn them around. It may be a hard road to travel, with many twist and turns and more detours than before, but I know God still has plans for me and will use me even if I fail or falter. I know this because I have traveled down some wrong roads in my life and each and every time I looked back to realize that I was headed in the wrong direction, Heavenly Father was there to walk me back and point me the right way. He then still chose to bless me, use me and call me His own.
· It took many years to grasp this, but in the end, I learned that God wants me. Not what I can do, not what I can produce, and not my perfection. He wants me…all of me, the good, the bad and everything in between and from that what He wants most is for me to love Him completely and more than anything else in the world. There’s no magic formula to get God’s approval or win His love. He already loves you and I as much as He’s gonna love us…right now! He will never love you more and He’ll never love you less than He does right at this moment. That was an awe-inspiring truth when I first learned it.
So the question for you is this: What do you think of Heavenly Father? What is He to you? How do you see him? If you answer those questions and don’t like what you find, maybe you need to do a little searching… not for the right scripture verse to memorize, but for the evidence in the lives of those told in scripture for who God is, what His attributes are and what that means to you. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts…. Leave them in the comments below.