I would never say that not having my dad in my life effected me.
I had two beautiful and strong women in my life and I really always felt I didn’t need a man for anything.
But you don’t know what you don’t know.
I never knew or felt the love a Father has for his daughter.
When my husband and I had our daughter, I thought, now I could give her what I never had and live vicariously through their bond.
I would see what it was to have a dad.
Although I’m thankful for their connection, it really couldn’t effect my heart personally and uniquely the way that it would if I had my dad affirm me personally.
We don’t realize that our dads dictate so much of how we view ourselves.
Our dads have the ability to build us up, tear us down and speak over our identity.
Regardless of how good, bad or present your dad was, his words or lack thereof, leave something strong ingrained in us.
I had been a Christian for 17 years and I wanted the “more.” I was tired of just believing the Bible. I was questioning why we weren’t doing what the Bible says if we actually believed it. God had been taking me on a journey since my grandma died in 2015. She would have been the closest thing to a “dad” in my life that I had. I was done playing church and I wanted what was real. I wanted all Jesus had to offer if it was real. My husband and I found ourselves at a Christian conference that I joke is for "christians to get saved at."
But really I was questioning if I even understood the cross.
I’ve preached the cross and Jesus crucified, taking our sins and dying the death we should have but I felt for the first time as a Christian in that moment, that I really didn’t get it deep down.
Something was missing.
I was so desperate, I told the Lord, “I just want You, whatever’s real whatever You have for me, I want it. If I look like a crazy person and fall out, I don’t care anymore I just want what’s missing, I want more, I don’t care what it looks like.”
I honestly thought I needed to get slain in the spirit to receive what was missing. I had recently received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16, Acts 11:16) but I felt like something was still missing.
On our way home from this conference we stopped at a church in Redding that I had heard about and thought maybe I would receive whatever is missing there. Maybe someone would give me a word or pray for me. They were having a worship night and we happened to be driving through town at the exact hour. Everything seemed surprisingly normal. People just chillin' singing to Jesus. We were singing the song 'Extravagant.' The bridge to the song says "when You pull me close I won’t resist You" and repeats that. Essentially saying "I won’t resist Your love."
So as we start to sing that part of the song, I realize, I can’t sing it. I don’t believe the words I’m saying.
I was shocked.
That was the last thing in the world I would have thought.
That I was resisting the love of Jesus. I was more desperate and hungry for Him than I had ever been.
I knew I needed Him to help me put down whatever wall I had up towards Him.
I said “Jesus, I don’t want to resist Your love. Help me not resist Your love.” And then I was finally able to sing, “I won’t resist You.” Right when I sang that part out-loud I had an extremely strong vision. It honestly felt like I was just daydreaming or imagining things. But I couldn’t recreate it later which was helpful for me to realize it was actually from God.
In the vision, I saw a little girl who looked just like my daughter only a bit older. She had long dark hair and she was wearing this beautiful ball gown. She was dancing under these twinkly lights in a garden. She was so full of awe, wonder, and she was radiant. Joy was all over her face. Then this groom came dressed to the nines, and he took her hand and started dancing with her. Spinning her around. And she was so happy. He was smiling at her and delighting in her.
Then I realized it was her Father.
I could actually feel his heart for her. Like this romantic love that was not weird or perverse but full of sincerity and gentleness yet radical. I felt that there was nothing she could do to make him love her more, and nothing she could do to make him love her less. I felt like she belonged to him. And he belonged to her. I watched them delight in each others presence and could feel this love so strong. I knew he would die for her. I knew this love was personal, intimate and unique.
Then I realized I AM THE GIRL.
And that is my Heavenly Father.
In that moment, I knew love like nothing I’ve ever known before. It was supernatural. Like a download into my spirit that words pale to describe. I was wrecked. I never knew. I never knew His personal heart for me. I never knew the heart of a Father, particularly a perfect one.
From that moment on I was changed.
We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) I was a Christian and I believed He loved me. I believed the cross. But it wasn’t until that moment that I KNEW His love for me personally. Every wrong perspective I had of Him, radically overthrown in one moment.
Now I’m reading scripture through the lens of the Father I encountered. I’m seeing things I’ve never realized before. Lies I believed “backed by scripture” about His character that actually was just scripture twisted. Realizing that’s what satan does. In the garden, with Jesus, and with us. Satan manipulates us into questioning God’s word, God’s character and our worth and identity.
The enemy wants us to question where we stand with God.
From that moment on I was compelled by love. I could literally feel the Father’s heart for people. Everyone. People I didn’t like before, I now loved. I was drawn to them. Compelled to pray radical prayers for them. I didn’t care about what I looked like or my reputation at all. I just wanted His other children to know His love. I felt like I was awake and I needed to wake up His other children.
I remember praying for a random stranger to get healed. I was so moved by the Father’s heart for him that I was physically compelled to drop everything, walk up to him and ask to pray for him. He was supernaturally healed right then and I shared the Father’s heart for him. This tough guy, grown man, sobbing having just encountered the Father’s love.
Since my encounter with Love, God has led me to do some really wild and unexpected things. But many people have also encountered His love. Even though it’s at times, uncomfortable for me or risky, He is worth laying down my reputation. His children are worth me looking foolish. It hasn’t always been perfect but honestly most of the time when I listen to Him and take the risk, people encounter Him. I would never and could never go back. I pray that if you’ve read this entire devotional, you receive His radical transformation love. That fully heals and fully sets free. That solidifies your worth to Him in an undeniable way.
If you’ve read this far I believe you are one of the ones that is actually hungry for the “more.” I have encouragement for you, if you’re thirsty, you will be satisfied. (John 7:37-39, Matthew 7:7)
““I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”” II Corinthians 6:18
“Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14
~ Amanda Santistevan