On a recent trip to Arkansas, a friend of mine, John, said something that really impacted me. We were discussing how awesome it was to be grandfathers and how in love we were with the little ones. Then John said, “The love of God is like the love of grandparents for their grandkids.”
God loves us like a grandfather.
I know, I know – the Bible provides us with the metaphors we need. We must be very careful before we add any, especially if they potentially alter our view of God.
However, I make this statement not to alter our understanding of God the Father but to deepen it. This was helpful in my case, not because I wanted to change what the Bible says about God being a father, but because I needed a change in how I viewed His love as a father.
I have always struggled as a Christian with condemnation. Always. I have always viewed God as a father who didn’t really focus on what I was doing right but on what I was doing wrong. Admittedly, this wasn’t the view from my head but from my heart. I knew in my mind that God took note of good works – the Bible says this in many places; but in my heart I believed that God’s focus was always on how I was blowing it. That covers a lot of ground, too. I’ve blown it plenty.
But when John made that statement, something clicked inside my heart. My heart overflows with love for my grandchildren; that’s the way God loves me – and all His children.
Now, I tease my own children – who are now grown – and tell them, “I don’t remember loving you like these grandchildren.” Of course, I absolutely did love them that much. I was in the delivery room for the birth of both my daughter and my son, and when I first saw them, I was in love. Besotted. Crazy about. My daughter, who is my firstborn, was the first newborn I had ever seen in my life. Next to her mother, she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
When you are raising children, however, there are the million-and-one things to correct as you train them up in the way that they should go; there is the constant struggle to provide for them; there’s the instinct to protect them from the seemingly endless number of things out there that pose a danger; and so on. I’ve told my kids that, starting with my daughter’s first night out with friends, I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since. That thing our parents used to say about worry – you know, about not sleeping until they heard the keys unlocking the front door to signal that a child was home, safe and sound – that’s a real thing.
Those kinds of heavy burdens certainly manifested our love for our children – but also tended to weigh on us. They tended to drown the “I love you so much!” feelings in a torrent of “Watch where you’re going,” “Have you finished your homework?” and “Who in the world is Bob and is it true he’s covered in tattoos?” feelings, too.
Enter the blissful state of grandparenthood. I don’t have to do any of those things anymore – or very little of it. I just get to back up the Dump Truck of Love and pour blessing and favor and gifts all over the littlest Vitaglianos.
What does this have to do with God? Well, He doesn’t worry about anything. He doesn’t struggle to provide. He knows the end from the beginning. This means His love isn’t drowned in or masked by anything.
In Ephesians it says He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (1:3) and adopted us “according to the kind intention of His will” (vs. 5); God has “lavished on us” the “riches of His grace” (vv. 7, 8); and “in love” He has done all this (vs. 4). You hear those words? Blessed us. Kind intentions. Lavished. Riches. Love. We have God’s favor and it is for a lifetime (Luke 4:19; Psalm 30:5).
And as soon as my grandchildren are old enough, I’m going to tell them all about how much God loves them. Right after I show them.