Entering His Presence: Getting to Know Your Father
Have you ever played with a labrador puppy? It comes running and jumping and wagging and nuzzling and tumbling to greet you. Imagine for just a second that you are that puppy, entering the presence of a heavenly Father who loves you so deeply. “Wait! What?” Yes, I know it can sound a little unorthodox, but sometimes, we need a little help imagining what it looks like to enter boldly into the presence of God (Hebrews 4:16). We can come to him confidently, joyfully, and without guilt or fear.
Easier said than done, right? Sometimes, I look at my day or my week or even the last year, and I’m discouraged. I didn’t get enough done; I didn’t pray or read Scripture enough; I didn’t reach out to someone or accomplish my goals. Somewhere in that thought process, the idea that God probably doesn’t want me slips in, and it pushes me even farther away from him.
Other times, though, I remember. I remember that God wants me to be near to him. I remember that he loves me unconditionally, and instead of remaining discouraged and down on myself, I ask my heavenly Father to show me how much he loves me once again.
Who Told you?
Our image of our heavenly Father is wrapped up in all kinds of experiences and ideas. Sometimes, we think of him as a harsh judge, waiting to punish us. Or we might know that he is merciful, but that mercy will run out at some point, right? If we are going to draw near to him with confidence, we need to know that our Father will never turn us away. He will never condemn, belittle, reject, or hurt us. But how can we know that?
There are two ways that the Father reveals himself to me. One way is through the Scriptures. As I read the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman in John 8, I begin to see that no matter what I have done or not done, Jesus does not condemn me. Or as I read about the woman at the well (John 4), I see his care for us when we feel rejected and excluded.
The other way that I get to know the Father is in the gentle whispers of the heart. When I was in college, I was struck by the mercy and justice of God, but I thought they were somehow equal components of his character. A couple years later, I was at a prayer meeting, and I felt like he showed me that he is both merciful and just, yes, but his justice fills an average-sized cup, while his mercy is like an ocean. When I shared this with a friend, he reminded me of Psalm 30:5, where it says that God’s anger is for a moment, but his favor is for a lifetime. His mercy is so much bigger!
Another time, a friend urged me to ask the Father to show me how much he loved me. She said to just keep asking until he did. So I asked…and asked, and asked. I didn’t really feel or sense anything for a while, but one day, almost out of the blue, I had the realization that God loved me a hundred percent unconditionally. He didn’t love me because of what I was doing or not doing. In fact, he would love me the exact same amount if I turn today and left him. That is how unchanging and certain his love is for me. It is so remarkable that it is still hard to fathom.
If you feel far from God or like you have done something that he can’t forgive, this is for you. He loves you. He has made you clean. He delights in you. He loves the sound of your voice, the way you laugh, the way you look. You are beautiful in his eyes, and he wants you to know that. You are his princess. You are the apple of his eye.
As we move into this new year, ask the Father to show you how much he loves you. Even if you know this in your mind, let him plant it deep in your innermost being. Ask him to anoint the feelings of rejection and fear with his love. Let him show you that you can truly draw near with boldness and joy and enter into his presence.
Christine lives in a household with her husband, Joel, and two housemates, and of course, her guide-dog, Dina. She is employed by the Spirit of Christ Community in Jacksonville, Florida, and enjoys gardening and baking.