Praise and worship is a passion of mine! There is so much that transpires when the body of Christ comes together with genuine expectation for an encounter with the true and living God! Often times, I can be found, mic in hand, crying and snotty-nosed. (I’m talkin’ Viola Davis in Fences snot bubbles!) Have you ever been mid-song and come to the realization that the person they are talking about in the song being sung, is YOU?!? I still can’t get through Cory Asbury’s Reckless Love without choking up. We were created with a natural inclination to cry out to our heavenly father. It is in our spiritual DNA because God, in His infinite wisdom, put it there. However, sometimes we struggle to realize and/or connect with that heart cry. Due to life experiences, we often have difficulty recognizing and accepting the loving heart of our heavenly father. Author of Foundation Stones, Terry Edwards, gives examples of hindrances to receiving God’s love in the following excerpt:

“1. Faulty Concepts of God- There are two main contributors that produce a faulty concept of God: our own sense of unworthiness and poor authority figures, especially our fathers. 2. The Hurts of Life-Many things can happen to us in our lives that cause us to shut down emotionally: traumatic childhood events, abuse, peer rejection, broken relationships, divorce, etc.”

This was my plight. I had an extremely difficult time seeing God as a loving father due to my experience with my natural father. My father was an abusive man in nearly every sense of the word. Physical, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse was his specialty. Sometimes he would come home and beat everything in the house from Mama on down to the dog! He was a provider. He always kept a job and worked very hard to provide for his family. He did so until he abandoned his wife of 20 years to raise five children alone. I was raised in the church. Therefore, I had always heard the stories of His loving kindness, but the only thing I could identify with was the provider side. In other words, I could trust God with my money, but never my heart. It was my experience that fathers were abusive and eventually abandon their families. I wanted absolutely no parts of yet another father/daughter relationship in which the end resulted in me being abandoned! I was well into my adult years before I heard God speak to me for the first time. I remember the encounter quite vividly. I was praying for a husband. I was crying out, telling Him that I just wanted someone who would love me. He responded, “But I love you.” Needless to say, I was wrecked! The maker of the heavens and earth had just spoken to ME! There were billions of people on the planet, and He took time to express His love for lil ole me at a time that I needed it most. That moment was the beginning of the greatest love story! God has been wooing me with His unfailing love ever since. The love of God is transformational. It heals. It corrects. It shifts perspectives. It stretches. This has been my experience. His love has allowed me to see my natural father in a different light, and to forgive him as a result. His transforming love has brought emotional healing and released faith to love others as well. I can testify that His love is indeed transformational. I will never be the same. My heart is filled with gratitude, and that is the reason why I sing!

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