"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters." 
2 Corinthians 6:18

i have learned more about my heavenly father's heart from these three than anyone or anything else.  i grew up silently longing for the love of a father.  it was a deep, unspoken void in my life - and a gaping, unfilled hole in my heart.  i learned to mask it with feigned strength and at the same time, learned to fill the void with anything - and eventually anyone - i could.  invariably, our view of our heavenly father forms through the lens of our earthly fathers.  i didn't know God - and i imagined that He was probably okay with that.  distant.  evasive.  uninterested.  the feeling was mutual.     

when He began pursuing my heart as a teenager, my view of God began to change, but my view of myself had also changed.  i didn't know much about this God, but i couldn't fathom that He would choose a girl like me.  i didn't understand it.  i struggled to accept it.  wrought with sin and unworthiness, i rejected His calling.  His authority.  His word.  His love.  again and again.  for nearly two decades... 

i imagined a God who was gravely disappointed in me and in my shame, i tried to hide, hoping He would lose sight of me in the midst of my own darkness.  hoping - perhaps at times even believing - that He would eventually relent and come to the same conclusion the wounds of my childhood had written on my heart, the lies that the enemy had whispered in my ear:  that i was unworthy.  unloved.  and unlovable.  unable to accept love. unable to give love.  unable to change.  

for the first thirty years of my life, i would believe these lies, and live them out as my truth.
"I know the plans I have for you," says your enemy. "Plans to bankrupt your life and harm you; plans to take away your hope and your future."  ~ Beth Moore  

in the midst of the darkest time of my life, in the midst of a crumbling marriage, i can remember my husband holding a picture of our precious daughter.  she was just three years old.  with tears in his eyes, he showed it to me.  "God loves you, Nadia.  Can't you see it?".  He was pleading with me, not only for the sake of our marriage, but for the sake of my very soul.  and i couldn't.  i couldn't see anything at all.  only darkness.  
"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." 2 Cor 4:4
even in the precious lines of my children's faces, their little smiles, i couldn't see His love for me.  i believed with all of my heart that my children, my family, were precious gifts, but with that same sin-wrecked heart i also believed that God had to know He had made a mistake in giving them to me.  clearly, i could not be this wife He was calling me to be, this mother He was calling me to be, this Christian He was calling me to be.  i had tried and failed and ultimately, i packed my belongings and retreated further into darkness, into nothingness.  i leaped off into a pit from which there was no escape, to a place where none would dare to chase after me... but God.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, 
    out of the mud and mire; 
He set my feet on a rock 
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Psalm 40

looking back on even the darkest of days, i am in humbled awe of my God.  my very own Abba, Father.  His grace.  His mercy.  His provision.  His scandalous love for me, yes, even a woman like me.    sweeping me into His arms and whispering to my heart all the things i'd longed to hear all my life.  i was a thirty-two year old woman, and yet,  in that moment - i became his little girl.  His beloved.  i had always been.  i just hadn't known it.  in the midst of my failures, my struggles, i no longer hide from Him, but run to Him.  He is my comforter.  My rock.  My redeemer.  I am His child, even when i come running home dirty, with scraped knees and tear-filled eyes. 

i am in humbled awe that, in light of his marvelous grace, i have the privilege of watching my own children bask in the glow of their father's love up close; God's precious gift to my children of an earthly father who consistently demonstrated the character and love of Christ - even when the circumstances demanded bitterness and rage.  i am so thankful that my precious son has an earthly example to follow and for my little girl - oh, especially for this little girl that i see so much of myself in sometimes - my heart overflows with gratitude that she has an earthy father who answers those unspoken questions instilled in the hearts of every little girl ... am i lovely?  am i lovable?  am i worthy?   yes.  you are lovely.  you are loved.  you are worthy.  you are beloved.  

and for every heart that aches with the silent longing of those same questions, for every life aching with a gaping void, our heavenly father whispers those words of His heart to you, too.  You are my Beloved.  "I will be a Father to you..."


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