God our father

The Shiner (Mark 12:29-31)

Having a child has opened my eyes to so many spiritual truths. These truths weren't unknown to me before; I just didn't have a full understanding of them.

For example, Jesus described God as our father.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18

Until I became a father myself, I couldn't fully understand this kind of love. And - now - as a father, I learn new truths about God's love daily. Just the other day God revealed a painful truth about His love to me through my relationship with Dawit.

A few days ago Dawit received his first shiner. The spiral staircase loomed dangerously in my parents living room for years. Many of the kids and adults in the family have received lumps on their heads from the metal edges which protrude into a primary traffic and play area. This was the worst header that I've seen. Dawit was in a great playful mood. We sat around laughing at his antics as he ran around the living room. Our laughter was quickly silenced when Dawit caught one of those metal edges right in the face at a full run. Of course, in that moment the worst ran through my mind. Did it get his eye? Did it break a bone?

I scooped him up and held him close as he screamed. And within five minutes he was back at his antics as if nothing had ever happened.

I, on the other hand, remained shaken the rest of the night. It is hard for me to describe the pain that I felt during this incident. I think it would've been less painful for me to have taken the hit in place of Dawit. In fact, I wish that I could have. My love for him is so deep that when he hurts, I hurt. I find that when I am ravenously hungry I'm willing to give Dawit the first bite off of my own plate. When I am thirsty it reminds me to give Dawit a drink.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31

Now I know what it feels like to live out the second greatest commandment, love your neighbor as you love yourself.

It's a common saying these days that “you have to love yourself before you can love others.” Though there is some truth to that, there is little use focusing on it. The truth is that we already love ourselves plenty.

When we are hungry, we become uncomfortable so we eat to relieve that pain. When we are thirsty, our only thought is for a drink. If we're cold, we put on more clothes. We care for ourselves because we love ourselves.

No wonder Jesus seemed compelled to heal and feed those people around him to the point of being overwhelmed. His love was such that he felt their pain. When he saw someone hungry, he couldn't be satisfied until they were fed. When the lepers came to him, his heart was crushed by the pain that he could see in their eyes. When he met the woman at the well, though he was desperately thirsty, he passed up a cool drink of water to address the emotional and spiritual turmoil battling in her life.

That is the love that I have for Dawit and that is the same love that Jesus expects me to have for all people. Selfless love.

Has someone ever loved you with this selfless, sacrificing love? If you haven't joined the Chicks for Change campaign, it's not too late. You can offer food and a cool drink to the needy children in Ethiopia simply by clicking here, making a donation, and helping to sustain lasting hope.