The love of God the Father is a covenantal love that always has been and always will be. It is a promise first made to Adam, then again to countless generations including Noah, Abraham, David, Elijah, and more – a love definitively demonstrated through the giving of the life of His Son for our sins. The Father’s love is unconditional and beyond comprehension; the guidepost from which all love is measured. Multitudes of fathers since the beginning of time have labored out of love for their children. Earthly fathers often strive to reflect to others the perfected love of God the Father.
Teach me, Lord, Your way that I may walk in Your truth, single-hearted and revering Your name. I will praise You with all my heart, glorify Your name forever, Lord my God (Ps 86:11-12).
The beach! The sound of rolling waves hitting the seashore, fresh saltwater lingering in the air, the man and his family love their annual beach vacation, which has become a family tradition repeated most years for the last 27 years. It is the one time of year that all members of the family are present and the distractions of daily life are removed. This morning, Dad bangs about noisily in the kitchen, preparing the dark roasted coffee for the family. The rich Brazilian beans brewing coffee serve as a gentle alarm clock for the temporary inhabitants of the rented condominium.
Over his shoulder, the father can hear his six-year-old daughter and youngest child bouncing through the den.
She commands with glee, “Daddy, daddy! Come see, quick! You’re not going to believe this.”
And Daddy responds, “Okay. Let me get the coffee finished up.”
Tugging on his tee-shirt, the child continues, “Really, Mom says you have to come see right now. Mom says come see!”
Smiling, he replies, “Okay, I’m coming!”
And the man turns the coffee pot on to brew and the child grabs his hand, pulling toward the balcony that overlooks the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Through the sliding glass door, the man can see his wife looking off the balcony into the distance.
Sliding open the door, he asks, “What’s all the fuss about?”
“Take a look at that,” responds his wife, pointing to the west over the water.
There, in the distance, is a beautiful sight to see. Arching high into the sky from the shoreline and stretching in a great colorful bow miles out into the Gulf, hangs an impressive double rainbow.
“Whoa!” he exclaims. “That’s pretty awesome! A double rainbow.”
But his little daughter is undaunted.
“No, Daddy, look again,” she corrects him with excitement. “It’s a triple rainbow! Isn’t that cool?”
And looking more closely, the man can see the third rainbow that had already begun to fade.
“You’re right, my girl!” he confirms. “It’s a triple rainbow. You don’t see those very often!”
Turning to his wife, he continues, “That’s a great way to start the first day of vacation!”
Smiling and nodding, she replies, “It really is.”
Turning once again to his youngest daughter, Dad continues, “Look out over the water. Do you see all those fish jumping? That’s Spanish mackerel. They’re jumping because the dolphins are chasing them. Look close, you’ll see them,” while he holds his little daughter’s hand and points to a dolphin surfacing as it chases its prey.
Then he asks his wife, “Honey, do you want coffee?”
She replies, while keeping one eye on their youngest and another eye on the rainbow, “Thank you, I would.”
The little girl, hearing the word coffee, asks, “Daddy, can I have coffee?”
“Sure, how about some coffee milk?”
And as he walks back into the condo, the man hears his daughter’s reply, “Thank you, Daddy.”
While making the coffee, the man ponders the rainbow and its ancient meaning. The word covenant settles into his thought process. What is a covenant? How does a father demonstrate that covenant with his own family? Love, hard work, teaching, pushing, discipline, and the passing down of traditions all spring to mind as he watches his two college-aged sons sleeping on the sofas in the den. They always have sofa duty and never complain, he thinks. They have become men before his very eyes.
Both his sons have their eyes on the future and Dad finds great joy in the men they are now: hardworking, happy, and faithful. The man’s heart expands in his chest, with thanksgiving to the Almighty Father for all the blessings He has bestowed on him. The man knows that he is blessed beyond what he deserves.
He wonders in his heart if this is a glimpse of the love that God the Father has for His children – an unconditional love that has no need of being returned. The comparison strikes him at his core. God the Father is his own Father, he realizes, as the man is his children’s father – the depth of that understanding is sometimes lost on his simple human brain. But at that moment, the man is struck by the profundity of the realization. As a father himself, he shares in the fatherhood of God the Father. Can he even begin to comprehend that?
About that time, his oldest daughter wanders in from the bedroom where her husband rests and says, “Hey, Dad. Do you have the coffee ready?” Then she hands the man his granddaughter with the words, “Give Papa a kiss.”
Daughter and granddaughter both hug Papa on his neck and give him a kiss on the cheek. His oldest daughter, now married and starting her own family, has come into her own. A strong Christian woman in her own right, he thinks. Dad could not be more pleased. At such moments, the man knows that he is allowed a small glimpse at the covenant of love God the Father has for His children.
Then looking at his sons on the sofa, he whispers to his oldest daughter, “Let’s take the coffee on to the balcony with Mom. You need to see this incredible triple rainbow.”
And moving toward the balcony while reflecting in his heart, the man knows with all his being that God is good.
Know, then, that the Lord, your God, is God: the faithful God who keeps covenant mercy to the thousandth generation toward those who love him and keep his commandments (Dt 7:9).