How the death of my earthly father helped me find my Heavenly Father

Growing up, I saw faith reflected in nice people doing nice things for each other. Faith appeared shiny and perfect, surrounding kind stories and mission trips. And a God who seemed “over there.”

I desperately wanted to know a personal, God, One who is in this real mess, this circumstance, this feeling, who offers authentic right.this.very.minute type of faith.

I mistook faith as my responsibility, one where I had to pursue a relationship with the Creator and bring my achievements to the table in hopes of being seen and known in return.

I had it all backwards.

And it took the sudden death of my dad, a brain stroke that led to his passing, where I realized faith isn’t about what I do to reach God, but an invitation where I get to simply respond and come to see how real He is in the everyday moments of today.

Grief served as the catalyst to where real life and faith connect. Where the God I always wanted to experience became the Father I depended on with an eyes wide-open perspective.

Suddenly every relationship, unexpected circumstance, the conversations I have with our sons, the bumping into a neighbor at Target, became an invitation to see how genuine and present God is. Right now. Right here.

This journey has been life changing in ways I never expected. Where before I attempted to avoid hardships and plan life as one epic party, I now start the morning asking, “God help me not miss YOU in whatever the day brings.”

Be it frantic schedules, or a squabble with my husband, a job change, transition, or an illness, He is asking me to respond with an open-handed, cut-the-fat awareness of faith. Where He is near and out-of-the-box. An intimate relationship where He wants me to come, just as I am, despite anything I can do, or control, or achieve.

And this is where I’m choosing REAL. Where I’m pushing through unplanned moments like cancer and loneliness and the days I feel unworthy, and I’m peering deep and responding to His heart.

Because at the heart of real life is His invitation to love us and invite us. Simply as we are. With our concerns and fears and messy lives and a peace-offering perspective of knowing we don’t have to put out our best, or impress Him with our perfect lives, but simply show up and say “Yes. I’m here. I’m available. Have your way with me.”

This, I’m finding is genuine, skyscraper jumping faith. This is faith that doesn’t ask us to be in control.

Faith that celebrates when life doesn’t go as planned.

Faith that trusts God is using every relationship, feeling and a detour to focus us toward depending on Him, instead of ourselves.

Faith that notices how His manifestations always exceed our expectations.

Faith that understands how His Spirit speaks not only through His words and worship but also through baking with our kids, and running at the beach, and decorating our homes.

A faith for everyday people like you and me. A faith that reflects a genuine God who is smack dab in the mundane moments of today.

And it took losing my earthly father to awaken me to experiencing my Heavenly Father. Where faith shifted from something I spoke of and is now a response I live into. And I can’t help but wonder if this is the Jesus you want to know too? One who shows up in real life and offers hope and permission to come as we are and celebrate that we are not in control.

Oh the freedom at living open-handed, especially when life doesn’t go as planned.

Care to join me as we choose REAL together?