This is an article I wrote on Holly’s blog just a few days before she went into labor with Caleb. I thought I would take the opportunity to share it here.
After an early indicator of Down Syndrome appeared on our son’s sonogram in October, Holly and I were referred to a specialist to look for any further signs of problems. As we went in for the appointment, we were unprepared for the awesome sight we were about to witness. After determining that Caleb was just fine, the ultrasound technician turned on the machine’s 4D imaging feature, giving us photo-quality renderings of our baby boy. For the first time, we were looking at our son’s face. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Caleb aroused, scratched his face, and let out a giant yawn. My eyes began filling up with tears as I watched my son move around in Holly’s womb.
I have watched this video dozens of times over the last several months and I just can’t get over it. Every time I watch it, I’m filled with pride. I have a son! He has two eyes, a nose, and lips. He even has ears! And the coolest part? He can yawn!
Honestly, could I be more easily impressed?
For the last year, I’ve been periodically writing letters to our children. Before Caleb was even conceived, I began the process of giving him and his future sibling a window into our lives. After convincing myself that Caleb had just hung the moon, this was my note to him:
[quote_box author=”” profession=””]I am so proud of you. I want you to always know that. At this point, you’ve done nothing to deserve it. You just kick Mom and make it difficult for us to sleep. When you get here, I get the privilege of handling your poop and waking up at ungodly hours to soothe you. You’ll get sick and I’ll have to clean up your vomit. You’ll leave your toys out and I’ll step on them, hurting my feet. I look at these next several years and they’ll be fun but exhausting. Someday you’ll break my heart too. The day is coming when you’ll deliberately disobey me and question my desire for good in your life. But you know what? I’ll still love you and I’ll still be proud of you.
Don’t get me wrong – you’ll do things that I’ll delight in and I’ll brag to my friends about you constantly. But that’ll never be the source of my pride or love for you. I love you because you are my son, a product of my love for your mother. For the first time, I got to play an ever-so-slight role in the creation of human life… and the result is you. I hope and pray that when you hear of God as a Father, I’ll be a good example for you to relate to. I hope you can look at my love for you and somehow better understand the unmatchable depths of His.
Just know that I love you, I’m proud of you, and you can’t do anything to change that.[/quote_box]
Our Father in Heaven
Being my father’s son, I’ve always had a certain understanding of God’s love for me. As my dad disciplined me, forgave me, held me tight when I was scared, and sacrificed to care for me, he was giving me a slight glimpse of my Heavenly Father’s love.
As I stand on the cusp of being the dad in the picture, I’ve begun seeing it from the other side. Quite simply, there is nothing that Caleb could do to earn my love. If the burden were on him to deserve it, he’d have a difficult time. In his early years, he won’t be physically capable of doing anything for me. If he makes me something, it will be with an adult’s help. If he gives me a gift, it will be with my money. When he eventually learns how to show me love, it will only happen because I loved him first. Plain and simple – he can’t offer me anything that I don’t already have.
But Caleb doesn’t have to earn my love. He has had it since the morning of July 4, 2011, when his terrified mom came out of the bedroom with a positive pregnancy test in her hands. All he ever had to do is exist.
How could God have given us a better metaphor to describe his love for us? All of this makes “Our Father in Heaven” much more real to me. Paul tells us that he showed his love while we were still sinning against him (Rom. 5:8). John’s message is unmistakably profound – “We love because he first loved us (I Jn. 4:19).” But the verse that has rung loudest in my heart is this: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags… (Isaiah 64:6).”
There is nothing I can give my Heavenly Father that he doesn’t already own by virtue of his sovereignty and holiness. The best I can offer my God is worthless, even disgusting in comparison to his awesome presence. At the end of the day, I can’t earn it but I never had to.
With all of that said, there is one thing that Caleb can do to warm my heart. He can let me love him. Nothing would give me greater joy than to feel him lean on my shoulder when he is tired or rest in my arms when he is hurt. I look forward to seeing him respond to my discipline and conform to our instruction in his life. I will take joy in watching him enjoy the gifts and sacrifices we have made for him.
Surrendering to His Love
There is one thing that God asks of us – that we let him love us. He made the ultimate sacrifice, sending His Son to die for our failures. He stepped down from Heaven so that we can join him there in the end. This is his gift to us. We love him by submitting to his love for us.
In those times of failure and shame, this is the greatest truth. We love him because he first loved us, he loved us while we were still breaking his heart, and even the best we can offer wouldn’t be of any value to him. He loves us and we can’t do anything to change that.