What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. — Galatians 4:1–7

My oldest son just celebrated his 15th birthday on Wednesday. I took him to get a birthday steak at my favorite restaurant, Nick and Sam’s. It was so fun watching him experience something new — it gives me a deep since of joy to have the ability to bless him. I love getting to celebrate his birthday during the Christmas season each year. Therefore, it goes without saying that Christmas and the birth of my firstborn son will forever be linked in my mind. Both Christmas and Luke’s arrival point me to the joy associated with birth and life in general. Both have truly changed everything. So most birthdays, I pause to write Luke a letter telling him how much he means to me. I file it away and plan to give it to him later in life. I consider it part of his “relational inheritance”.

As I paused to write this year’s letter, I couldn’t help but think about how grateful I am to have a God who is “rich in mercy.” (Ephesians 2:4) I am so glad that my children’s safety does not ultimately hinge on my performance as a parent or even on their ability to be good. They have been committed into the hands of a loving Heavenly Father — Abba — who actually has the capacity to always do what is right. While I am flawed and certainly limited in my vision, he assuredly is not.

In addition to making me grateful, this letter-writing ritual forces me to think about how much I love my children. I want the best for them, and I so wish I could take their place when they are hurt or discouraged. Honestly, I get pretty angry when my children are injured and I would do anything to make it better.

And God is Father…

Can you imagine allowing your son to endure the pain of the cross so that others might live? Can you even wrap your mind around the idea of sending your child out of paradise and into a fallen, broken, shattered world? Quite frankly, you aren’t getting my son — I would just let you go to hell. Sound harsh? Well, so is the scandalous idea of allowing Jesus to come to earth, face persecution and, ultimately, die on the cross. I get angry just thinking about it. But, then again, I’m not God.

Because of the advent of Jesus, you and I stand to inherit a relationship with God. That is the message of Christmas that resonates deep within our souls — a longing for harmony with our Redeemer can be satisfied. Isn’t this text part of a beautiful love letter? And to think it was written to us — from our Dad.