I'm not an art history buff, but there's one painting that's changed my view of God forever—and all because of two hands. In his remarkable painting "The Prodigal Son," Rembrandt captures the full expression of God's character by painting the Father God with two very different hands. One hand is drawn masculine: rugged, protective, and strong. The other is clearly feminine: slender, nurturing, and soft.
There are times in life when God's nurturing qualities are exactly what we need. Our picture of God is only complete when we truly allow his mothering qualities to embrace our hearts. To know his tender love and his mighty power renews our strength to trust in him, no matter what challenges come our way.
Journey with me through four devotional times of exploring and responding to the truth of the nurturing side of God's character:
Explore: Ava Pennington says, "When I overlook all the characteristics God reveals about himself, I lose. I lose the blessing of knowing him as gracious and gentle, compassionate and comforting. I lose the joy of knowing him as encourager and friend, loving and kind."
Respond: Think of the first five words you'd use to describe God. Do you first think of him as holy and powerful or loving and tender? Because of our personalities, circumstances, and upbringing, most of us will lean one way or the other. Psalm 131 is a short reflection that invites us to think of God as loving, kind, and tender. Record these verses in your journal or on a notecard, or post them in your car. Read the psalm several times this week to root the imagery in your mind as you rest your spiritual burdens in the loving arms of God.1