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Spending time with a God who loves you

By: ashley dannelly

I lived under the assumption that God was irritated with me for most of my life. While I never said it outright, I believed in the deepest part of my soul that God’s holiness automatically made me abhorrent in His eyes. 

Thankfully, a few years ago I learned that my assumptions were mistaken. God has always loved me (Romans 5:8). His love for me will never cease (Lamentations 3:22-23). 

Then I had my first child, and my understanding of God’s love changed yet again. For the first time, I understood God’s love for me — not as a righteous and all-powerful Creator — but as an amazing father. 

Being a parent has allowed me to better understand how much God loves His children and how far He would go to spend time with us. 

My children are imperfect. They make mistakes — both deliberately and accidentally — and hurt themselves and others. They lie; they bicker. They create unbelievable messes. Yet none of these things takes away the tiniest measure of my love for them. 

The Bible tells us that, even with all the love that we have for our children, God loves us immeasurably more (James 1:17). Being a parent has allowed me to better understand how much God loves His children and how far He would go to spend time with us (Luke 15:18-24).

Four Ways to Spend Time with Your Father who Loves You

1. Read  

My kids love it when my husband and I tell them stories. Whether we are reading from a book or relating a piece of our own personal or family history, the stories we tell are meaningful to our children because they show who we are and what we believe is important. At the same time, we are thrilled to spend special time with our kids. 

It’s the same when we read God’s Word. He speaks to us, and we learn more about who He is and what’s important to Him. And just as loving parents cherish the time spent reading to their children, God loves when we come to Him and ask Him to tell us a story.

2. Pray 

When I was a child, my favorite part of the day was my trip home from school. We lived a short distance away, so my mom would walk to school to pick me and my sister up. All the way home, we would talk about our day. We’d mention the fun things we did in class and the games we played at recess. We’d talk about the difficult moments of our day — when someone picked on us or when we did something embarrassing. Our mom would listen intently, sometimes sharing bits of wisdom or simply smiling as we walked along.

Just as my mom loved hearing from us about what was happening and how it made us feel, God loves it when we talk to Him. Prayer is the best way for us to tell God what’s going on, to let Him know how we’re feeling and what we need His help with. Sometimes, He will talk back to us and share some of His wisdom. Sometimes, He’ll just smile as he hears us sharing our hearts with Him.

3. Rest

Have you ever seen a child that is tired but can’t seem to admit it? With our kids, it seems like the best thing to do in that scenario is to pick them up, place them in our laps, and rock them to sleep. There is something comforting for our children when they’re held by a parent who loves them and is there to keep them safe and help them rest. 

Did you know that God wants us to rest, too? It’s easy to fall for the lie that God expects us to constantly be at work. But that isn’t true. God also wants us to approach Him expecting rest and rejuvenation (Psalm 23:2-3). As we set aside time to spend with God, instead of checking something off our to-do lists, He gives us rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

4. Worship 

My daughter recently became interested in dancing. Whenever she hears a song, especially one she knows, she jumps up, finds some free space, and starts moving. I can’t help but smile and laugh — and almost always jump right in alongside her — because her joy and energy are contagious.

Occasionally, I am moved to tears when my daughter does this to a worship song. We’ll have a playlist going in the background as we eat or clean or put a puzzle together, and every now and then a worship song will come on that my daughter knows. She does the same sweet dance, and she sings all the words she knows. In those moments, I understand a fraction of how God must feel when we worship Him.

While we all worship differently, we can all agree that worshipping is more than singing the songs we hear on Christian radio or at church. Worship is a lifestyle. It's allowing our whole lives, and sometimes our whole bodies, to declare that God is big and strong and powerful and holy and completely in love with us as His children (Romans 12:1). There are many ways to worship God, but all of them focus our hearts on His goodness and bring Him immense amounts of joy.

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