One day as I lay in my bed in the Special Care Unit at Shepherd Center, my dad came to visit me. Although he spent many hours with me during my stay, I remember this particular moment clearly, like a snapshot in time. He was standing on my right side looking down at me. I suppose we chatted about this & that, all nondescript things I have long since forgotten. Then, out of the blue, he said something that I will never forget - something that, to me, would forever define true love.
My father looked down upon me & said, "If only I could change places with you & climb into that bed & be paralyzed so you could be healed, I would."
Well, of course I argued with him saying, "Daddy, no! I wouldn't want that!" He replied, "Yes, but I'm old & I've lived my life. You deserve a chance to live yours, too." I said, "Well, thank you, but I wouldn't want you to be paralyzed."
That was the whole conversation. At the time, it was what it was - my Daddy showing, in a moment of vulnerability, how helpless he felt that he couldn't help his hurting baby. Since then, however, the Lord has shown me the true depth & importance of my father's words.
"If only I could change places with you...I would."
That is the definition of true love - thinking not of oneself, but only longing to do whatever necessary to give the very best to the other.
That is the heart of a good father.
That is the heart of God.
My daddy looked down & saw my life -my hopes, my dreams, my future - shattered by that awful paralysis, &, out of his love, wanted desperately to fix things...to give me back my life. I knew he meant it when he said he'd trade places with me. If he could have, he would have done it in a heartbeat, but he couldn't.
But that is true love.
That is the Father's love.
That love that my Daddy felt & expressed for me is the same love that God has for all of His children. God created each of us & gave us the greatest gift anyone can ever give - free will. Just as I chose to use my free will to make the stupid choices that caused me to be paralyzed, all mankind has made the stupid choices that have brought sin & death into God's perfect world. What God created good, man used his gift of free will to mess up. Yet God still loves us.
When my daddy looked down & saw my broken body, he didn't think about my poor choices. All he thought was, "If only I could change places with you...I would." It's the same way with God. He looked down & saw his children laying in our beds of paralyzing sin - sin that held us back from being everything He created us to be - & he said, "If only I could change places with you...I would." But where my daddy couldn't do it, God could & DID do it in the form of Jesus Christ. God sent His own Son to come into this world & pay the price of our sin so that we could choose to walk whole...so that we could have hope, dreams & a future. Jesus took our judgment upon Himself. Out of His true love, He sacrificed Himself on the cross, said, "It is finished," & surrendered His life for us. He climbed into our beds of paralyzing sin so that, if we accept His gift, we can get up & walk in the fullness of life with God.
That is the heart of the Good Father.
That is True Love.
If you have never made a personal choice to accept God's gift of love, why not take a moment to do so right now. Maybe you've never heard of God's gift before. Maybe nobody ever told you that each of us has to individually - personally - accept God's love through Jesus for us. Maybe you accepted it once, but you've crawled back into that sin-bed. Maybe you've just been holding God at arms length lately & need to reconnect. Maybe you're not sure about any of this, but you just don't like where life's got you now. Wherever you are, God's love is waiting. He's a daddy who sees you just the way you are & loves you anyway. He's a daddy who is holding out His hand, ready to help you up & teach you & guide you through a life with Him.
It's simple, really. Just say something like, "Jesus, thank you for your gift. I need it. I accept it. Please help me."
If you accepted God's gift, please let me know. I'd love to rejoice with you!