There was an episode of Doctor Who recently that sparked some thoughts in my mind. If you don’t know, Doctor Who is a long running, BBC show about a time traveling alien, his adventures with various assistants over the years. In this particular episode, the good Doctor has the opportunity to take Vincent Van Gogh forward in time to view a Van Gogh art exhibit. As they walk the speechless artist into the room, he sees crowds of people marveling at his paintings and groups of school children listening to their teachers talk about the wonders of Van Gogh. The Doctor takes it one step further and pulls an art expert over to talk to them about Van Gogh. The expert begins to speak lovingly about Van Gogh and goes as far as saying he could be considered one of the greatest artists of all time. Unbeknownst to the expert, he was speaking directly to the artist himself. Van Gogh stands dazed and then tears begin to stream down his cheeks as realization of the importance and value of his work begin to dawn on him.
Watching this show I was poignantly reminded of how powerful praise truly can be and how healing it can be to know how valuable you are. Growing up, I was blessed with a father who consistently told me how amazing, talented and blessed by God I was. There were so many times that he took the time to stop what he was doing to tell me that I had done a good job. The last time I spoke with him, two days before he died, his very last conversation with me was how proud he was of the fathers my brothers and I had grown up to be. Truly, he set an example of a father who loved to lavish his praise on his kids.
To me this was always and still is an incredible example of God’s love for us. He, our eternal, Abba, Father, is proud of us and never withholds His love for His Children. In 1 John 3:1 it says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” John describes God as a Father and our relationship with Him as children upon whom love is “lavished.” In my mind’s eye I picture the effusive verbal praise and love that art expert had for the artist or the consistent glowing pride my father had for each of us. This love is unearned, undeserved, unsolicited and unconditional which is why this love is so very much inescapable. The works “treadmill” is nonexistent in the heart of a Father whose very nature, name and identity is love.
The question that I would ask myself to ponder is this: Why do we have such a difficult time displaying that love and praise for those we love or even those around us? We live in a culture that frequently places a premium on earning. Earning money, earning respect, earning love. Why is it so much easier to withhold love and praise? I truly believe that God has called each of us to be His hands and feet on this earth. This week I feel particularly challenged to be a giver of grace, dispenser of praise and lavisher of the love of the Father. Who but The Father knows the true power of this love when it is freely given rather than withheld or understands the healing power of praise!