Loving Father

Loving Father

Each morning in my home looks exactly the same, and I love that. The gentle hum and drip drip of the coffee pot while my husband Seth and I sit on the off-white couch in front of our gas fireplace with our bibles in our lap. We wrap up our reading time praying together and sometimes listening to “Give Him 15,” an outstanding devotional and prayer app. Last summer we went through a series for the month of June where each morning’s devotion was a chapter from Dutch Sheets book titled, The Pleasure of His Company: A journey to intimate friendship with God. The Lord used this book and the devotions each morning in a mighty way in both of our lives. For the past few years, I have been asking questions like, “God, how do I love you?” “How can I know you more?” “How do I walk in deeper intimacy with you?” If the greatest commandment is to “Love God and love people,” (Matthew 22:37-39) what exactly does it look like to love God? I know I do this through worship, reading my bible, giving my time and resources, but I want even more. I want to know what it looks like to be friends with God.

One morning a story from one of those chapters in The Pleasure of His Company stopped me in my tracks. The chapter was titled, “The Prodigal.” The story was about a teenage boy who had skipped school for a couple of days and had lied to his parents about it. The parents found out when a school administrator called to tell them their son had not been at school. Upon receiving this news, the parents were more concerned with their son’s lying than with the missed school. I can understand. From day one of parenting in our home, Seth and I have hopefully hammered into our kid’s heads over and over how the worst thing one can do is lie. Once we lie, we lose everything else- trust, relationships, and the path of destruction that lying leaves in its wake is devastating. We always tell the truth.

The parents of this teenager decide on an unusual punishment for their son. The boy had missed three days of school, so they tell him he will stay in their attic for three nights. He will eat his dinner and sleep there. The long, lonely nights end up being even longer and lonelier for the parents than for their son as they think about how sad and afraid he might be up there. One night, as the father lies in bed in the middle of the night wide awake thinking about his son, he decides he can’t take it any longer. He grabs his pillow and blanket and goes up to the attic to be with his son. When he gets up there and sees his son is awake as well, he explains that he is not taking the punishment away, but rather he is going to share the punishment with his son. The father laid down on the bed beside his son, wrapped his arms around his boy as both of their tears mixed together on the pillow they shared in the attic.(1)

I do hope you have at least a small lump in your throat as I did, if not a tear rolling down your cheek at this point. The point of the story was to illustrate what Jesus has done for each of us. There are consequences when we sin, and sin has a price that must be paid. Just like the red nail polish I spilled on the white carpet in my bedroom this evening- that stain is NOT coming out! Seriously though, the Bible says, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). 

“Two thousand years ago God crawled ‘out of bed’ with His blanket and pillow- actually three spikes and a cross of crucifixion- ‘staked’ His tear stained cheek next to ours, and bore our punishment for sin. His attic was a tomb, His bed a slab of rock, and the cheek next to His was yours- yours and mine.”(2) 

This beautiful story immediately came to my mind the other afternoon while teaching a writing lesson to my two sons. Writing is their least favorite school subject. Both of my boys have faced significant learning challenges from a young age. Like many kids, they are incredibly intelligent, but learning to read, write, and do math has not come quickly to them. They have to work hard at it, and they do. One of the best parts of homeschool is that we can move at their pace and they are not stuck in the comparison trap of what their peers are able to do. This particular afternoon, my younger son was really putting up a fight and resisting our writing assignment. All the usual tactics were employed- arguments, tears, rolling around on the floor, begging me to write for him, and attempting to do a headstand on his chair. That last one was impressive! I stood my ground. I did not allow his antics to raise my blood pressure and send me into an escalated flare of emotions, (which by the way has happened plenty a time). Homeschooling draws me to repentance often. I’m a work in progress too. 

As I watched my son increase the intensity of this rebellion, I instantly pictured the father lying next to his son in the bed. I got down to eye level with my own boy and calmly told him that I was not excusing him from the writing assignment, and I would also not be scribing for him. He was going to do the entire thing on his own, but I would be with him every step of the way. I would be right next to him with every letter, every word that he wrote until it was finished. Since this assignment involved copying from the white board, I rested my hand under every word he was to copy and did not move my hand to the next word until he was completely finished copying it. As we started this process, his countenance instantly changed. He cheerfully and confidently completed the assignment. My presence and complete commitment to being with him in the hard times gave him the strength he needed, and rendered his previous bad behavior unnecessary. 

How do I get closer to God? Parenting can sure teach me a lot about that endeavor. God is a loving Father. His desire is to be with me- to lay his head next to mine and mix His tears with mine, and to walk with me step by tiny step through the hard task. That’s love. "He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:8). I simply need to remember and receive as I talk to Him, cry with Him, listen to Him, and enjoy His warm embrace. I can enjoy His presence now, and uninterrupted from here and into eternity as the rest of Romans 6:23 explains, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1. Adapted from S. D. Gordon, What Will It Take to Change the World (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 17-21
2. Dutch Sheets, The Pleasure of His Company (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2014), 184


  1. Margo McCombs on January 21, 2022 at 8:50 AM

    I so love that story! Comforts me & inspires me! As the Lord has come down to be with us, so we must, in turn, give ourselves to be with others.

    • Elizabeth Mathey on January 25, 2022 at 10:16 PM

      Thank you, Margo! Yes, those are excellent insights, and I agree. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed that story.

  2. Carla Erland on January 21, 2022 at 9:37 AM

    That was great Lizzy; thank you for sending-I loved it!

    Homeschooling is hard and to be present and involved takes more than we humanly have. I love your dependence, obedience and commitment to the Lord to humbly press on.

    • Elizabeth Mathey on January 25, 2022 at 10:12 PM

      Thank you so much, Carla!

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About Me

I am a child of God, a wife to Seth, and a mother to James, Luke, and Eva. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I became a “new creation” at the age of 23 when I surrendered my life to Jesus and was delivered from a decade of depression. Read more...