“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-33
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."
— Ephesians 3:16-17a
Being a parent is like being a good host to a stranger. While we may think that our children are like us, we are continually surprised at how different they are. We can be gladdened by their intelligence, their artistic gifts, or their athletic prowess, or saddened by their slowness in learning, their lack of coordination, or their “odd” interests. In many way we don’t know our children.
We didn’t create our own children, nor do we own them. This is good news. We don’t need to blame ourselves for their problems, nor should we claim ourselves their successes.
Children are a gift from God. They are given to us so that we can offer them a safe, loving place to grow to inner and outer freedom. They are like strangers who ask for hospitality, become good friends, and then leave again to continue their journey. They bring immense joy and immense sorrow precisely because they are gifts. And a good gift, as a proverb says, is “twice given.”
The gift we receive, we have to give again. When our children leave us to study, to look for work, to marry, to join a community, or simply to become independent, sorrow and joy touch each other. Because it is then that we feel deeply that “our” child isn’t really “ours” but given to us to become a true gift to others.
It is so hard to give our children their freedom- especially in this violent and exploitative world. We so much want to protect them from all possible dangers. But we cannot. They do not belong to us. They belong to God, and one of the greatest acts of trust in God is letting our children make their own choices and find their own way.
— Henri Nouwen, Here and Now
"If you took the love of all the best mothers and fathers who have lived in the course of human history, all their goodness, kindness, patience, fidelity, wisdom, tenderness, strength, and love and united all qualities in a single person, that person’s love would only be a faint shadow of the furious love and mercy in the heart of God the Father addressed to you and me at this moment."
— Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God
"When we get a glimpse of Christ, many step in to interfere. We have our hours of contemplation, when we draw near to Jesus, but alas! how the world steps in and interrupts even our most quiet moments—the shop, the field, the child, the wife, the head, perhaps the very heart, all these are interlopers between ourselves and Jesus. Christ loves quiet; he will not talk to our souls in the busy market place, but he says, “Come, my love, into the vineyard, get thee away into the villages, there will I show thee my love”… But in heaven there shall be no interruption, no weeping eyes shall make us for a moment pause in our vision; no earthly joys, no sensual delights, shall create a discord in our melody; there shall we have no fields to till, no garment to spin, no wearied limb, no dark distress, no burning thirst, no pangs of hunger, no weepings of bereavement; we shall have nothing to do or think upon, but for ever to gaze upon that Sun of righteousness, with eyes that cannot be blinded, and with a heart that can never be weary."
Sermon delivered on April 18, 1858
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
I did a wedding last summer. At the rehearsal dinner, the groom asked his father if he wanted to give a speech. The dad simply replied: my heart is overflowing.
At the time, frankly, I thought that was a comical response (especially since that was literally all he said).
But on Monday, I became a father.
I have to tell you, there was no way for me to anticipate the immediacy and intensity of the love I feel for my daughter. Other parents have said that to me, but part of me really thought I at least kind of understood that love. I was wrong.
Today I laid with my daughter on my chest. At two days old, she lifted her head and stared into my eyes.
I thought about her wedding day; her going to school; her first words; watching her make mistakes… and here she was, just a few days old, lying on my chest looking into my eyes.
I love my daughter even more than I thought I would.
It is almost beyond belief that this is the kind of love God has for EVERY person on earth.
I thought I knew love, but I had no idea.
When God looks out at humanity, his heart is overflowing with a furious love for his children.
"This very month of April, which, if it be not the very entrance of spring, yet certainly introduces us to the fulness of it; this very month, bearing by its name the title of the opening month, speaks to us of the resurrection. As we have walked through our gardens, fields, and woods, we have seen the flower-buds ready to burst upon the trees, and the fruit-blossoms hastening to unfold themselves; we have seen the buried flowers rising from the sod, and they have spoken to us with sweet, sweet voice, the words, ‘Thou too shalt rise again, thou too shalt be buried in the earth like seeds that are lost in winter, but thou shalt rise again, and thou shalt live and blossom in eternal springs.’"
— Spurgeon, April 1, 1860
"You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship."
— NT Wright, Simply Christian