FAITHFUL LIVING: God gives love, care to his whole family

Have you ever played a free-association game? When free associating, a word is suggested and the first thought that pops into your mind is probably your natural inclination. Given these parameters let’s play for a brief moment, beginning with your immediate thoughts surrounding to the phrase, “God the Father.”

I can relate to this image for I experienced the great love and devoted care of an earthly father. If, however, this was not your experience, the Bible clearly says God planned for your birth no matter the circumstances. In fact, He resembles an intrigued and fully-engaged father. Read these amazing words,

“You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life.”

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations he had us in mind,

had settled on us as the focus of his love.”

“I have carried you since you were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and will take care of you.”

If God knows us so thoroughly, He must also have the desire to listen to our prayers, suffer alongside us when we are in pain, and stay ever present with us as we go about living our lives.

The Message Bible moves us even further along this path of understanding by paraphrasing a verse in the book of Romans that says, “The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us.” While a loving and caring father is a role model that serves us for a lifetime, sometime we long for God to protect and shield us, to be powerful when we feel weak. This week, in fact, there were times when God did not resemble the father-like role to which I naturally gravitate. As the wind blew and the rain pelted down upon us, He displayed enormous power.

He became God Almighty.

When I was a child, I often made summertime trips to the Midwest with my brother and parents to visit relatives. And because my dad supported us on a school teacher’s salary, all luxuries were set aside by necessity. Rather than flying, we packed our car for a straight shot — driving from the West Coast through the desert Southwest to Oklahoma — arriving tired and sweaty but happy to see everyone.

During each trip I watched God Almighty in action. I saw His depth in the Grand Canyon, His mystery in Carlsbad Caverns, His purity in the White Sands of New Mexico, and His power in the thunderstorms that frequently overtook our car.

Countless times I recall watching threatening thunderclouds roll across the skies in the very direction we were headed. We would look for the lightening and watch for the edge of the storm — knowing the rain and wind would eventually overtake our family car.

As much as we loved the storms and enjoyed playing amateur weather forecasters, they occasionally scared us. I recall thunder so loud I would cover my ears. At times my dad had to pull to the side of the road as our wipers could not keep up with the torrents of rain hitting our vehicle. I also recall hopping up into the front seat to sit on the confident lap of my dad, where I always felt safe from any storm.

My most vivid lesson in the ways of God Almighty came the night my little brother and I were put to bed upstairs at my great-aunt’s house in Marlow, Okla. While my parents visited with adult family members downstairs, Brian and I contented ourselves by watching a huge oak tree sway outside the bedroom window. As the minutes passed, sleep evaded us while a summer storm brewed outside. Soon the branches began slapping against the window pane and dark, alarming sounds grew closer. Torrents of raindrops pelted the roof, the room lit up with the brightest light I had ever seen, and the crack of thunder overhead sent us for the only shelter we could find — under a light sheet covering our legs. In seconds after hearing our pathetic wailing I recall hearing Dad lunge up the stairs and seeing him spring through the door to encircle us both in his protective arms.

The face of God can be almighty, but He is never just powerful. He will, at the scariest of moments, provide ways for us to experience His tender and protective, loving and compassionate nature. He will stay God the loving Father all the while.

The storm will pass. The sun will come out, once again.

Freelance wrtier Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is jb

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