I said ‘Thank you’ to St Paul for all his injuries and suffering which brought the gospel to the gentiles, and made him write those letters which helped me to find God in Christ for myself, they helped my understanding so much.
Paul smiled at me and turned and looked across Heaven to where Jesus is. ‘I didn’t do it for you,’ He said quietly. ‘I did it for Him. I love him and in serving Him I got hurt.’
Then I looked at Jesus. His wounds still visible on His glorified body, on his forehead and His hands. His white robe hid the biggest scar, but His red sash reminded me that it was there.
Jesus turned and looked at Paul and me. He smiled at us. ‘I did it for Him,’ He said quietly. He meant the Father. ‘I love Him.’ He said. He pointed with His eyes across the enormous room.
I looked over at our Father, Who was sprawled comfortably on a large sofa with His arms stretched out along the back, playing with about six different children whilst talking to two or three teenagers standing behind the sofa. Everything about the Father was large – huge torso, long arms, big hands, big feet, big smile and a big kindly face. A very elderly woman was on the sofa next to Him, and some men stood nearby.
I have always been a bit polite round the Father. A bit shy, unsure. But it was too late. As though knowing that we were discussing Him, the Father turned his head around to look in our direction.
‘Ah,’ He said. ‘Grace.’ He paused. ‘Good to see you.’ He shooed the children off his enormous knees and stood up. His presence was overpowering, being huge in every way, but feeling totally gentle and trustworthy. He ambled over to us and gave me a big hug.
‘My Father.’ I said. I’ve never called Him that before. I’ve always called Him ‘The Father’ or ‘Our Father’, hiding in the crowd. Now I knew He is My Father too, personally mine, my own, not to the exclusion of the rest of humanity but knowing that I myself actually have a relationship with Him from now on.
He ruffled my hair and stretched an enormous toothy grin. ‘Hey, you have a thinking problem now, don’t you? If Paul suffered for love of Christ, and Christ suffered for love of Me, then Who loves you?’ He was smiling broadly. I knew Paul loved me, because I could feel it, hear him laughing behind me as he talked with Jesus. I knew Paul had loved all those he wrote to, and I knew for a fact that Jesus loved me too and had died for me. Suddenly it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t all there is… For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…
My Father loves me, more deeply than these others because He is deeper, bigger, wider. And behind Him stands no one else, there is nobody else bigger than Him. I have known the Holy Spirit a long time, and I have trusted Him with my physical life and body, obeying His voice. I have trusted Christ to protect me from the wrath of God, to save me from the dangers of life, the depths of despair and the moments of danger or disease.
But this. I hugged Him back, it was like trying to hug an elephant, my hands didn’t meet round the back of Him. I was crying, emotion welling up. Behind Him, there is nobody to condemn. And He does not condemn. All He does is to save you.
Sisters and brothers, the Father loves you. Try calling Him Father today.