I first met Cinda (not her real name) in the apartment building laundry room. I learned quickly that she lived with her boyfriend, Nick, and was taking classes at the University of Cincinnati. My wife, Heidi, and I got to know Cinda and Nick over the next couple years, hanging out with them at the apartment-building pool, playing cards, and just sitting around chatting.

When we began an investigative study of the Bible, Nick responded quickly. I had the opportunity of helping him accept Jesus as his Savior and Lord and I baptized him in the chilly waters of our pool early one Sunday morning.

Cinda was not so quick to respond. For a long time, I wondered if she ever would. It’s not that she didn’t believe what Nick, Heidi, and I believed; she did. It’s not that she had reservations about the Bible, Jesus, or living as a Christ-follower. She was fine with all that. She saw the changes God was bringing about in Nick, and she liked that–she liked it a lot!–and she wanted God to do the same for her.

Cinda’s problem–her roadblock–was this image of God the Father.

This week I’ve been writing about this irresistible image of God stooping down to listen to his children (Psalm 116:2). (See previous posts in this series: #1, #2, #3.) Our God, the Creator of the universe, the all-powerful, all-knowing King, is also our Daddy–a Daddy who bends down to look each of us in the eyes and listen attentively to us.

Cinda could neither understand nor accept this picture of God. Her earthly father abused her and her sisters. I’ll hold back on the lurid details.

I hurt for Cinda. I prayed that God would replace her image of him– an image her dad had twisted–with the truth. We read the Bible together, passages like Jesus’ parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32). Heidi, who had more in common with Cinda that I, talked and prayed with her. Finally, we backed off; we didn’t want to be in the way of the Holy Spirit working in Cinda’s life. A year went by, and one day Cinda announced that she was ready to accept Jesus.

God had not given up on her. He kept reaching out to her, bending down to her, wooing her, until she could see him as he is. She fell into his embrace.

The Bible paints a captivating picture of a Daddy who lovingly bends down to our level so he can place his strong yet tender hands on our shoulders, look us in the eyes, and listen to us. If you are like Cinda, perhaps this picture is difficult for you to understand or accept, because someone has contorted what a Daddy is supposed to be like. Those Daddy’s hands look strong, but not at all tender to you. Those Daddy’s eyes look not with compassion, but cruelty  I pray for you if that’s your case. I pray God will do in your life what only he can do, and that you’ll see what Cinda now sees in her heavenly Daddy.

I see this picture in my mind of God stooping down to my level to listen to me! I can’t get over that image,  and I don’t want to. That’s the same image I want my own children to have of me. A daddy who bends down and listens. A very imperfect model of what our Heavenly Daddy is like.

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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