Just after Christmas last year, my husband Chris and I had to say goodbye to our much-loved Springer Spaniel, Millie. We’d had her for 12 years and she very much belonged to the season of life of us being ‘home alone’, with our children having grown up and left home. We were very sad, yet at the same time so grateful to have had her in our lives for these years. We both felt that we had ‘one more puppy in us’, so set about exploring options, and in early February we welcomed a new four-legged friend, Poppy, into our home. She came to us as an ‘older’ puppy – about 16-months old – beautifully behaved in some respects (having spent her early months with a dog trainer), but it took some weeks for us to crack her toilet training! And she had SO much energy…
It felt at times like we, and our home, had been hit by a whirlwind!
But through all those challenging early weeks I really felt God speaking to me about the nature of his love. We had known and loved Millie deeply for so long; we were ‘familiar with all her ways’ (as King David wrote in Psalm 139). Poppy we didn’t yet know in the same way, yet we loved her – not because she had done anything to deserve our love, but we loved her because we’d chosen her. In fact, we chose to lavish our love on her – and she responded so gladly and willingly. Now, four months on, it very much feels like she’s part of our family – and we’re becoming familiar with all her little ways! I thought you might enjoy this picture of Poppy with Chris, on the Malvern Hills. It all reminded me so much of this verse from a letter written by the Apostle John:
‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’, 1 John 3v1
As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, I know that for many of us there may be feelings of sadness as we remember fathers who are no longer with us, or fathers who may not be able to be there for us in the way they once were, or perhaps even fathers we never had an opportunity to know. But the fatherhood of God is something we are all invited to know and experience for ourselves, and His enduring presence with us through all the ups and downs of life is something we can count on. I love this promise of God: ‘Never will I leave you: never will I forsake you’, Hebrews 13v5.
May you know the reality and comfort of God’s love in this season of your own life.
And may these simple resources speak to you of this reality, and the fact that your Father in heaven loves you, has chosen you, and longs to lavish His love on you.
May God bless you and keep you in His love and care.
Revd Canon Julie Bradley, Associate Minister