While continuing on my sermon prep pilgrimage, I came across this story in Brennan Mannings book The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus. Just as I sensed an invitation to understand the depths of the Father’s love for me, I hope you will also.
“Shortly after I was ordained, I took a graduate course at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The professor was an old Dutchman who told the following story:
‘I am one of thirteen children. One day when I was playing in the street of our hometown in Holland, I got thirsty and came into the pantry of our house for a glass of water. It was around noon and my father had just come home from work to have lunch. He was sitting at the kitchen table having a glass of beer with a neighbor. A door separated the kitchen from the pantry and my father didn’t know I was there. The neighbor said to my father. ‘Joe, there’s something I’ve wanted to ask you for a long time, but if it’s too personal, just forget I ever asked.’
“‘What is your question?”
“‘Well, you have thirteen children. Out of all of them, is there one that is your favorite, one you love more than all the others?’”
The professor continued the story: “I had my ear pressed against the door hoping against hope it would be me. “That’s easy,’ my father said. ‘Sure there’s one I love more than all the others. That’s Mary, the 12 year old. She just got braces on her teeth and feels so awkward and embarrassed that she won’t go out of the house anymore. Oh, but you asked about my favorite. That’s my 23 year old, Peter. His fiancee just broke their engagement, and he is desolate. But the one I really love the most is little Michael. He’s totally uncoordinated and terrible in any sport he tries to play. The other kids on the street make fun of him. But of course, the apple of my eye is Susan. Only twenty-four, living in her own apartment and developing a drinking problem. I cry for Susan. But I guess of all the kids…” and my father went on mentioning each of his thirteen children by name.”
The professor ended his story, saying: “What I learned was that the one my father loved most was the one who needed him the most at that time. And that’s the way the Father of Jesus is: He loves those most who need Him most, who rely on Him, depend upon Him and trust Him in everything. Little He cares whether you’ve been as pure as St. John or as sinful as the prostitute in Simon the Pharisee’s house. All that matters is trust. It seems to me that learning how to trust God defines the meaning of Christian living. God doesn’t wait until we have our moral life in order before He starts loving us.” ~Brennan Manning, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, pp. 27-28
What does it mean to you that you have not escaped being noticed by the Father of Jesus?