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Love of a Father

December 2006 | by Paul Atherton

I’ve heard it said that everyone looks for God at some point in their life. For me it was 28 August 1999 – although it was really God who came looking for me. I wasn’t prepared for what it would be like to meet God.

Religious studies at school had given me no clue, and Sunday school and church hadn’t whetted my appetite either. So it came as a bit of a shock when I was 16 to find myself crying because, for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the love of my Father God.

I remember thinking that the timing of this meeting was a bit unfortunate. I was away on a youth camp with loads of other teenagers and was trying hard to be one of the cool guys – I was good at football and could beat the other lads in an arm wrestle. So, yeah, it was decidedly not ideal to be bursting into tears in front of them all on the last night.

Life-changing moment

Anyway, that was the start, and my understanding of what it all meant was pretty simplistic. I knew for sure that Jesus Christ had died for me, and that even if I were the only person alive on earth he would still have died for me. And I knew his death was hugely important because it was I who really deserved to die for my sins.

Exploring my new-found faith got pushed to one side by a teenage romance, but when that finished I began to understand a whole lot more. I found that God spoke to me through the Bible, and reading it suddenly became a top priority.

The Bible showed me a Man, Jesus Christ, and he showed me a kingdom – and this kingdom showed me a Father. Forgive the expression, but I was hooked.

Another life-changing moment occurred this past summer when the words ‘fully forgiven’ burst into my consciousness. Experiencing total and full forgiveness, and the perfect love of a heavenly Father blew my mind. But, of course, it also makes sense. If God is real, then to know him and relate to him must transform our lives.

Learning to hear God

Now at 23 I look ahead and have no real idea what’s coming. I do know that dreams of the future have been placed deep within me and that God will draw them out at the right time. But what is important to me just now is learning to hear and trust my Father’s voice above all the conflicting voices of the world around us.

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