All the usual pieces were in place. I was surrounded by family and friends. Cards and letters came by mail. Everyone ate more cake and ice cream than they needed after singing happy birthday.
From the outside it appeared to be a birthday party, but as you can likely tell from the picture, my 20th birthday was nothing like it should have been. Tubes were supplying me with oxygen and food, while bars and screws held my shattered neck together. My friends opened cards for me, as my arms and legs were paralyzed.
It may have been a birthday party on the outside, but on the inside I was having one heck of a pity party. I wanted out of the mess I had made of my life. After the dust settled and most of the people had left, my father leaned over my bed and mumbled, “Happy Birthday.” With tears in his eyes he said, “I wish there was some way that I could take your place.”
Though I could not speak because of the tubes, tears began to fill my eyes. My pity party came to an abrupt end. I knew my father would do anything to fix my broken spinal cord, even if it meant giving up his own life. In that brief moment, through that one simple sentence, I caught a glimpse of my heavenly father’s love and saw the entire message of the Bible. God looked down upon us in our helpless, hopeless situation and willingly gave his life as a sacrificial offering for our sin. He became a man and took our place on the cross.
It should not come as a surprise to us that God’s love can often be seen through the love of an earthly father. Over and over throughout the Bible, God’s love for us is conveyed as the type of love a father has for his children.
In the world that we live in today it seems as if there is a lot of confusion surrounding the definition of a loving father. People’s values and standards vary greatly even within individual families. One thing we could surely all agree on though is this; a loving father is willing to make sacrifices for his children. If need be, a loving father will even give up his own life for his children.
God loves you so much that he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for you. Remind yourself of this simple truth the next time you find yourself in the midst of a pity party. It may just do for you what it did for me.
Romans 5:8 says, “God commends his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And John 3:16 says, ”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”