Sometimes I find myself reminiscing more about my father (who passed away twenty years ago) for no apparent reason. I was blessed to have two parents that loved me — and my siblings — selflessly and sacrificially. There are many “loves” I suppose, but the love of a father for his son and the responsible love of the son for his father is unique. I have missed my father every day he has been gone. I dream about him at least once a week.
C.S. Lewis once remarked that this kind of love was first illustrated in how Jesus, the Son, looked up to God, His Father, and how the Father trusted and beamed in pride upon the Son. Truly the oldest love, in fact the first love, was not romantic love, or friendship love, but the love of a father for his son and a son for his father. To understand the depth of God’s love, I think, is to understand parental love and child—love. This kind of love does not fall in and out of love — it is permanent. It is not based upon mutual interests, one being attracted to the other, or even based upon a covenant or promise, but rather a connection that nothing — not even death — can break.
My heart breaks for the sons and daughters that have never experienced the unconditional love of a father (and mother). It makes the preaching of the gospel a bit more awkward to speak of a “father’s love” when there’s no reference point for that child. Yet at camp we have the opportunity of being the surrogate “fathers” and “mothers” for children who have been slighted and don’t know that love. I understand all the more, when I think of our witness as spiritual “moms” and “dads” to children why Christ warned that the bottom of the ocean was a better place to cast yourself than to cause a child to stumble as he/she was looking for the Father.
Is my love for those that are seeking Him selfless? Is it focused upon their needs and not my own? Is it obvious that I am willing to sacrifice my pleasures, time and energy for their well-being? Jesus was all of this to His disciples. In seeing Jesus, they saw the Father! That’s what’s supposed to be happening at this camp, in my life, and in the lives of those I am training.