growing in wisdom

Love In An Outline

I sat on my well-worn twin size mattress with a notebook resting on my crisscrossed legs. I can’t recall the subject matter scribbled on those pages. That isn’t important. The lesson awaiting me wasn’t on the syllabus of any professor at Louisiana College, that small community of teachers and learners nestled in the sweet pines of Louisiana.

My roommate was the unknowing instructor that day.

Patti Jo popped into our dorm room, all 175 square feet, with her effervescent love for life that was always on full display. Throwing her books on her bed, she opted to sit on our all-in-one room length desk. Finding the phone — yes, the black one attached to the wall, always in the same place — she picked up the handset and dialed the number.

“Hey, Daddy!”

PJ just sat there chatting with her dad about nothing in particular.

I sat in awe. Awe that soon turned into an ache I couldn’t shake.

If I had been taking notes that afternoon my outline would have looked something like this:

Patti Jo Talked to Her Daddy

A. PJ called her dad to talk.

  1. She didn’t need anything from her dad.
  2. She wasn’t returning his call.
  3. She simply wanted to talk to her dad.

B. PJ knew how to contact her daddy.

  1. She didn’t have to look up a number.
  2. She had stored his contact information in her mind and her heart.
  3. She called her dad — assuming he would answer.

C. PJ’s dad answered her call.

  1. She didn’t have to wait for her dad to call her back.
  2. He made time for their midday conversation about nothing.
  3. He delighted in her as much as she delighted in him.

Those were my take-aways.

And as an unintentional learner that day in the fall of 1983, I ached. My young heart longed for a relationship with my father that matched the newly sketched outline in my mind. A connection born of mutual love and trust and delight. However, it was a yearning that would never be satisfied.

But that perfectly demonstrated lesson in love eventually found its way to a safe place in my heart. In that precious moment (and many others like it) Patti Jo and her father had been the most beautiful, real-life portrait of prayer I had ever seen. A flesh and bone depiction of the relationship God longs to have with me.

Yes. God, my heavenly Father, wants to hear about the big things and the little things in my life. The ideas and dreams and worries that take up room in my heart and mind.

I can call out to Him anytime. While I might make morning or night-time my planned times of prayer, I can call Him midday to talk about nothing. I can call Him, knowing He is there. Recognizing His presence in my life.

And I can call Him with the assurance that He is happy to hear from me. That He delights in talking to me.

Are there times He may need to speak into my life? Redirect me? Ask hard things of me? Require me to give up good things in my life for better things He has planned?

Absolutely!

But none of those things negates or predicates His love for me. God’s love is oh so much greater than that!

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father… 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

EPHESIANS 3:14;17-18

God loves you and me. He loves us because He is love. And for those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus, God’s love for us is not tainted nor lessened nor strangled by the things that strangle us. In Christ, through Christ, and because of Christ, we can approach God boldly. We can rest in Him assuredly.

We can be in our Heavenly Father’s presence – delighted and delighted in.

Oh, I hope your story looks more like that of PJ’s than mine. I hope you have experienced a great love with your father who walks (ed) this earth. But if not, don’t let that keep you from calling upon your heavenly Father. Midday. To talk about nothing. He is there. Waiting.

Let them praise the LORD for His great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

PSALM 107:15

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