"A powerful invitation to know God as our Father, to experience His fatherly love and to witness that love to others in our everyday lives." - Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Philadelphia
"I love you, Dad. Do you love me?" - Micah
My son Matt found this note under the Christmas tree after the last present was opened. His son Micah had written the two lines in colored pencil along with a homemade Christmas card. Matt wanted to run and find his own colored pencil and write, "Yes!" right then and there. Micah's note is now taped to Matt's computer as he helps me compose and edit. Just like the heart of the six-year-old writer, the sentiment and question have become one of Matt's dearest treasures.
Micah, the third of Matt's four children, is a purebred rascal. Small in stature with big, brown, twinkling eyes, Micah can find adventure and excitement wherever he goes. Since infancy, if he felt something, you would hear about it. Listening to and obeying his mother can be a challenge for him, but expressing emotion is never a problem.
From his first moments of awareness, he saw his dad as the greatest hero on the planet. Micah always chooses to be on his dad's team. When his dad leaves on a trip, Micah is the first to fight back the tears. When he returns, Micah dives into his father's arms. He gets off the school bus, runs to his dad and asks immediately if he wants to have a catch. He bounces with delight upon his bed every Tuesday and Thursday night, when his dad comes in to tell him a "Micah and Jude" story. (Jude is Micah's cousin and best friend.) One day, watching my oldest son, Philip, working in the yard, Micah announced, "Uncle Phil, my dad has bigger muscles than you." (This was true only in the eyes of the young beholder).
Let me allow Matt to speak for himself:
I am not sure I did anything to deserve such exalted status in Micah's mind. When I go to his parent-teacher conferences, I wonder if the teacher is disappointed to meet me in person, having learned the myth of Dad through the stories and pictures Micah writes and brings home. "I want to help my dad take out the trash," Micah writes. "I like my dad because he is nice." While others drew pictures of comic book heroes or special friends, Micah chose to depict his friendship with me. I am sure I will disappoint him someday, but there is one thing I have resolved: This boy needs me, and I am going to give him everything I've got. I have the privilege of raising a young man whose heart is wide open and who has chosen me as his leader.
From his first moments, Micah instinctively knew that he needed his dad and that his strength came from being close to my heart. Micah loved to be held by me. He ran to me when he was afraid, and he always sought to be close. He never backed down from a good roughhousing session. My older son enjoys my company for a while, but he also likes to be alone. Micah, however, craves "Dad time." When Micah wrote that Christmas note, he already knew that I loved him. He hears me say it all the time. Micah tells me that he loves me because he wants to see me respond to him. He does not ask, "Do you love me?" out of fear or insecurity. He asks because he desires to hear me say, "I love you." When he hears me, his dad, tell him that I love him, when I hold him close, it is as if my strength is flowing into his heart. Micah has chosen to identify himself with me, his father. As I pour out my love on him, his heart brims over with confidence and joy in who he is: his father's son.
Something else has happened: Micah's note has become my daily prayer. Every time I turn to God, I begin by saying, "I love You, Dad. Do You love me?" Deep in my heart, I sense that my greatest need is to hear my heavenly Father respond to me and tell me He loves me. It is not that I need a kind word or touch from God just to feel better; rather, something deep in my spiritual DNA cries out for my Father. To know myself, I need to hear from Him. To face the world, I need to hear Him say it. I need to know that He is my Dad and I am His son.
My grandson's sincere love for his dad stirs memories of when my four sons were small and I was discovering what it means to be a dad. Each one has developed a unique way of receiving my love and loving me in return. My children made me a father. With the exception of my beautiful and wonderful wife, Janet, God could not have given me a greater gift. But today it is Micah's story that inspires me as I write. It is a picture of the relationship God wants with us.
Dad, do You love me? Do we dare pray this prayer? If you are like me, you find it far easier to ask God for His blessings, protection and guidance.
Dad, do You love me? Do we dare pray this prayer? If you are like me, you find it far easier to ask God for His blessings, protection and guidance. Perhaps it is easier for you to bury yourself in work and ministry, in goals and pursuits, than to ask this question. But why do we shrink from asking the biggest question of all? Why is it sometimes painful even to think about this question?
Perhaps the memories of our fathers remind us of the love and blessing we did not receive. The image of God as Father might churn up memories of fear, violence, rejection or abandonment. Perhaps the idea of God as a Father produces a dull ache that we cannot explain.
This book is an invitation for you to come on a journey of discovering the Father. Here we will ask some difficult questions, such as "Who is this Father?" and "How might I know Him?" Jesus revealed "good news" about the Father. In this good news, we will discover our source, our beginning and our destination. On this journey, you might become aware of a lie that has hidden the Father from view or a root of bitterness that has kept you from enjoying His mercy. We will also touch upon the pain of our greatest loss, the loss of our Father. At this juncture, you will find a greater understanding of why Jesus came, the reason for His death and resurrection. It is there also that you will find your Father's heart. Do not be afraid, for He is good beyond compare. You have been invited on a journey to your home in the Father's heart.
Neal and Matthew Lozano. "Introduction: Discovering the Father." from Abba's Heart: Finding Our Way Back to the Father's Delight (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2015) 19-22.
Reprinted with permission from Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Neal Lozano serves as the Executive Director of Heart of the Father Ministries and the Unbound ministry efforts. Neal has more that thirty years pastoral experience helping people find freedom in Jesus Christ. He is the author of the best-selling book, Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance, Abba's Heart Finding Our Way Back to the Father’s Delight, and Resisting the Devil: A Catholic Perspective on Deliverance. Neal is an international speaker and has spoken at various global conferences. Neal holds a master’s degree in religious education from Villanova University, where he has also led an evangelistic outreach to students.
Matthew Lozano is the director of leadership development for Heart of the Father Ministries. He holds an M.A. in both Theology and educational leadership.Copyright © 2015 Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group
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