This is a question I have faced many times this summer.
He always answers, “Yes, I love you, my beloved daughter.”
Over and over I forget this and have to ask Him again, “Ok, but do You actually love me?”
I have found myself thinking about this question a lot because every week on this mission I have taught little kids: God is Our Father in heaven, He is a good Father, and God the Father loves us. There are still wounds in my heart though that cause me to doubt and forget this basic fact of my existence. I know - at least in my head - that the Father loves me. To help explain this to my young students, I often ask the kids what they like about their dads. One of the classic answers is, “He gives me presents!” This reminded me of something Christ said in the Gospel of Matthew:
Or what man of you, if his sons asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! - Matthew 7:9-11
Throughout this entire mission we have been absolutely showered with blessings from God the Father. He has truly taken care of us through families providing dinner for us, parishioners giving us places to stay, and even fun gifts like a day-long tour of the Kenai Fjords!
Another blessing happened last Friday when our team had the pleasure of taking a tour of Denali National Park. Although we would certainly see some beautiful mountains, we weren’t sure if we would see the mountain, the tallest mountain in North America — Denali itself (formerly known as Mount McKinley).
As we talked about the wildlife and other sights we wanted to see, one of my teammates, Joe, said he was sure that we would see everything we wanted. I was kind of surprised at his confidence and asked him why he was so sure of something that seemed to be random, something that could only happen by chance. He said something to the effect of, “The Lord has blessed us so much this summer. He’s not going to stop now.”
I felt the exact opposite. We had been so blessed already. I thought asking for more would be asking for too much. The Lord completely took care of us when we ended up going to Alaska instead of Russia. The money we needed miraculously showed up. Our plans for the summer were able to be formed quite easily. We would still be spending the summer with Fr. Michael (another father who loves us dearly) serving the Lord and doing our best to follow His will.
I kind of just shrugged it off and got ready for the day, not expecting anything especially amazing to happen. When we got onto the tour bus, the driver started talking about how rare it is to see certain wildlife and only 30% of visitors actually see Denali. The mountain is so big that it has its own weather. Typically, there are clouds surrounding it that obstruct the view. At this point, I was thinking to myself, “See, we’ve asked for too much from Him. We should just be content with what we have.”
Then, we saw 2 grizzly bears. And another one. And then another one! “This must just be luck,” I thought. When we came around the first possible bend to see Denali, I heard words I wasn’t expecting to hear: “Welcome to the 30% club!” Denali was out! Not only was it out then, but once we reached our destination only 30 miles from the base of the mountain, our view of it was still crystal clear. What a blessing! What a gift! What beauty, wonder, and majesty!
When we were on the bus going back to the park gates, I admitted to myself that Joe was right. The Father wants us to expect much and ask much of Him. He is delighted to give to us out of His abundance. He showers gifts on His children whom He loves. I was in awe at the gift the Lord had given us that day. When I was reflecting, I felt surrounded by the loving care and providence of our God who sent His Son to save us. In my heart that day, I answered my own question: “Father— you really love me.”
In the Heart of the Father,
Liz and the Magadan Mission Team