by Frank Muller
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My sweetest memories of childhood are of the hugs from my mother and father. I am talking about those earliest moments of awareness. Those moments where I never wanted to let go of them, especially those hugs from my dad. It was there that I could feel safe in a strength that seemed towering.
I was in awe of my father and so desperately wanted to be loved by him, to feel those strong arms, and when that moment of embrace came, I never wanted to let go. Make no mistake, I loved the hugs from my mother as well but deep in my heart her hugs filled the gap between the less frequent and shorter hugs from my father.
It was many years later that I began to realize that what I was seeking was a perfect love from a mother and father yet confronted with the fact that my own parents (like all parents, myself notably) are themselves imperfect and they too are seeking the return to their childhood when if just for a few short minutes they were held again in the loving embrace of their mommy and daddy.
As a father, I remember vividly our daughters never ending hugs. As I was trying to make my way to the door to leave on another business trip my wife, our daughter and I would hug and kiss one another. When I pulled away to pick up the bag, it was our daughter who ran to me and hugged my leg and would not let go.
For nighttime prayers, hugs and kisses; after her mother had gone to bed, there we would stay on her bed in hugs and adoration. My Lord and my God I loved those precious moments! Oh, how I wish today as a sixty-year-old man to have that experience again and again and again. I want to be the daddy she so desperately desired, yet I can only so imperfectly and only temporarily provide. I want to be the daddy for others as well now who need those hugs because I see so clearly their pain.
Pure, unashamed love. Nothing else mattered to her except loving her Daddy and wishing he would just stay at home with her. And yet, in my heart my impatience would begin to rise, and I contemplated the parking lot at the airport and the security lines and the fast-food court or the need for the sleep I know I needed to prepare for the work ahead.
How now, in my heart I cry! As I did to my daddy, and he did to me. Here, with my own flesh and blood I show her that worldly love is imperfect. It can become impatient, frustrated, selfish, arrogant, self-absorbed and prideful.
All of us seek a return to that early childhood when the world held the potential of joy in the safety and security of a loving mother and father. That moment of innocence however fleeting remains the impetus for the rest of our life.
That moment of the shortened hug also becomes the place where we begin our search for joy in other things because somehow our real parents did not fill the heart completely, nor could they. It is here in this search that we are led to money, power, fame and pleasure. We seek those things in the infinite creativity of human desire and in the short term feel like we are receiving the hug we loved from our parents, especially of our father. But sadly, no matter how breezy those things may feel, we are still left empty and searching.
There is another and better search that can occur and admittedly few take that path. It is the search for the Mother and Father who never leave for a business trip or a Mother’s Day out. It is the search for a hug that lasts as long as we want it and never once let’s go until we are ready to go play ourselves. It is the eternal security that we are loved and safe.
Where do we start in that search? That search begins in our imagination and heart. As children whose early lives are dominated by the internal world of imagination and creativity is where we must return. It is in our ability to seek out that perfect Daddy and Mommy. In our imagination and heart is where we can begin this less traveled path.
The first step is quiet.
We must enter into that place of stillness and like a child in the dark of night it can seem very scary. With minds polluted by distractions, grotesque images we have allowed in, and false gods that never really satisfy we struggle to slow down and become childlike again. We cling to the things that do not matter and have lost the thing that does. Who is really the child?
Is it possible that as children we are born mature, and as adults we voluntarily become childish? I think this may be true. It is true for me where I was once childlike, and now I struggle with childishness. It is in that disquieting quiet where we seek these perfect parents that we begin to see and hear.
What is the goal of this quiet? The goal is for the quiet embrace of our Daddy and Mommy to become the most important thing in our lives. It is when we feel like we tear ourselves away from that embrace to journey back into this fallen world not because we love the world, but because we want others to know that love and we are certain we can return to their embrace at any moment.
Again and again as our relationship and knowledge grows then our lives very slowly will begin to get reordered. Our parents never want to let us go and they hold us as long as we need to fill our hearts with their eternal security and then run off to play with our friends and share the good news. And when our hearts need that refill, we run joyfully back to our Daddy for the hug that lasts as long as we need.
Then, there reaches that moment of pure joy when we suddenly realize that it is in fact, we never really tear ourselves away from Daddy and that He actually stays with us all the time regardless of where we go. Oh, the Daddy that never leaves! He is with me. The playground is not so scary anymore.
Daddy shows me the world both as it is, and what it could be if more people knew His love for them and they in turn loved Him. It is now that He shows me Mercy and I watch Him see people doing terrible things and he weeps and so wants to give them His Mercy if they will only seek Him. He wants them to come back to Him and He will love them and forgive them and heal them. He is Mercy, He is patience, He mourns over our reckless actions and how we hurt ourselves and others.
Within that loving relationship of our Mother and Father we will also grow to know that there are times we do not understand why the world is so mean and why our Daddy does not always stop the meanness. It is then that we go to our Mother who hears our cries, hears our pleas, wipes our tears, repairs are skinned knees. It is she when all else seems lost that she can ask our Daddy to help us more.
We learn that Love is freedom, not coercion. We learn that Love also is Judgement. We have the freedom to choose and the responsibility to bear the consequences of that choice. That is Love. It is patient over and over, merciful over and over but ultimately there comes a time of Judgement for us all.
We learn that the Father is actually a union. He is deeply connected with the Woman and between them in a mysterious unity is sacrificial and obedient Love. It is here that we realize that the Creator is actually a family. Three parts, one God, one Love. In some mysterious way, it is like our little family.
Myself as father, my wife as mother, and our daughter. We seek to live united in the Love of the eternal Father that never fails and as best as we can in the love for each other no matter what. Each of us united as children seeking the comfort of the same Loving Trinity as the first and most important thing in our individual lives and we seek to help the others as we all struggle in the journey to Judgement. This is the path; this is the way. And when one finds it, one must leave the parents for a quick minute and go share this wonderful news to those whose hearts miss the hugs of their own Daddy and we introduce them to the Father who never fails us.
Our Father sends His son to save us and to show us how much the Father loves us. Through their Love we are shown the Way and given the strength to persevere if we never let go of that hug.
I love the mornings and the evenings when I can lose myself in prayer with our Daddy. When I let go of this world and slip into His embrace thirty minutes passes like thirty seconds. When I celebrate His love in right worship, I am set free. When I am forgiven for my sins, I am unburdened. When I fail, I run home immediately and ask for forgiveness and seek help and wisdom to become better.
So, no matter where we are in this spiritual life stop and be quiet and enter into prayer. Go long enough so that we have to fight the temptation to lose focus. This is training the mind, heart and body to come to peace. Perseverance is key. Almost every attempt for many months, sometimes years will seem to fail but keep going. Lengthening our ability to be in silence using our imagination to see the Father is the first step in the Way.
This path will lead to learning many things about who we really are, and who our Creator is, and it will lead us if we seek diligently to the community of others who know right worship and who will accompany us in the journey.
On the playground of life, we will encounter many bad kids and those are easy to spot and obviously we are not to mirror their behavior, but we should always be their friends. However, there are also many kids who appear to be good and are well intentioned and fun, but they do not know right worship and the narrow way. We should always be their friends but not mirror their behavior.
As we learn about the Father we will learn about His way, not their way or our way. His way is not just one sentence from His mouth that appeals to us. It is taking all He says and integrating it into our life, and this requires ultimately the community of right worship and ordering of things where we submit our will even if in that moment we do not fully understand.
Half-truths are full lies. Half -truths though can eventually lead us to Truth because if we are always seeking then eventually, we will see the incompleteness of a thing and know we need more. Seek the fullness of Truth with an open heart and mind and our Daddy will show us the Way.
The narrow path is always a path of growth and perseverance. If we think we know it all, we are wrong. If we are not growing in Faith, we are slipping in Faith. Just keep hugging Him and learning about Him. Love Him above all things. We will know we are on the right path when we begin to face adversity and challenge.
Like riding a bike, it is scary, and we almost certainly will fall but eventually trust in Daddy’s arms (even if we do not like or understand what he is saying) and He will guide us through the fear and pain and doubt and set us on a path to freedom. Over and over again, we learn how to ride a new and different bike each day. Over and over again, our Father brings us a new bike and bigger challenges. He is growing and forming us to remain childlike and trusting forever whilst we grow in wisdom and stature in order to work for others and for Him.
And when that happens, all things start to become properly ordered and Peace in all things becomes the Way.
May Peace be with us all.