I am your father and I love you

We live our lives seeking to hear God speak these words to us. For those of us who have heard them, we still need to be forever reminded of them. These words are inextricably united with our destiny and our happiness, and, indeed, our salvation depends upon living this realization.

There are several ways to hear God speak these words to us: God talks to us through scripture, God communicates through the everyday blessings and events of our lives, and God may say these words directly to us.

“I am your Father, and I love you,” spoken at the human level is powerful. In a Christmas Prayer of Barry Wyatt Junior we hear: “A long time ago on Christmas Eve, my son said Goodbye. My son did not understand, that his father was there to nurture, love, comfort and to show him forgiveness and [his father was] not a working money machine, that he could lie to and money would come out for cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.”

Wyatt’s “My Christmas Prayer’ is an expression of the intense unselfish love that a father can have for his children, but that intensity is dwarfed by the experience of God speaking directly to one of us who was most in need of love, forgiveness and mercy. I share the story From Darkness into Light: Finding My Way to the Father’s Merciful Love by Shawna Arnold.

I was privileged to hear Arnold’s testimony. It is hard to listen to her story that includes abuse as a child, abortion, alcohol and drug addiction, imprisonment, and all the pain and despair one life can hold. God’s ever present love prevailed in her life and she turned back to the church and sacraments.

A retreat master asked, “Imagine Jesus is in front of you.” Then from out of nowhere Arnold heard the words, “I am your Father and I love you.” Shock, tears and disbelief followed.

“These words seemed like they were spoken out loud, but they could have come from within my heart,” Arnold says. “I was so excited and overwhelmed that I found out that God is real. He actually exists!”

Her complete transformation took some years. Today Arnold speaks at anti-abortion rallies and pro-life meetings. She is happily married with two children and a powerful example of God working through us his unworthy creatures.

Even today Arnold says, “I have had to go back to those words many a time to let go of the pain that rejection from my father has caused me. I realize now that God is truly my Father. That is why He gave me those words. It is absolutely incredible to see how God can work in our lives if we let Him enter our hearts.”

At the Baptism of Jesus in Mark 1:1 we hear the Father say, “You are my son, the beloved; my favour rests on you.” At the Transfiguration before Jesus faces the events in Jerusalem the Father again manifests his love of Jesus and empowers Him in His upcoming mission.

In the same way God loves us and empowers us. In Galatians 2:20, the Apostle Paul says, “It is no longer I that lives, it is Christ that lives in me”. Christ lives in us and the love that the Father has for Jesus is exactly the same love He has for you and me.

(569 words)

By Ken Rolheiser