Forgetting your Father?

In America, where many families live at a distance, loneliness among the aged is an epidemic. Some adult children ‘outgrow’ their parents, move away, and in spite of the many ways to stay connected, become so taken up with their own lives that Dad and Mom are forgotten ‘back home’ except for the occasional call.  Oh yes, sometimes parents of adult children create the chasm by their criticism or their unsolicited ‘advice.’  My children are well into their adulthood, my youngest near 40 and living 4 times zones from me. They do not ‘need’ their Dad like they did 30 years ago, but they still love me and I love them.  Though independent, we remain ‘family.’  We may only get to see each other in person once or twice a year, but they have not ‘outgrown’ their love for their Dad. This makes me so grateful. 

It distresses me as a shepherd of the people of God to see some come to a stage of life when, to all appearance, they outgrow their need for and love of God. Opportunities and responsibilities multiply. Prosperity comes. For some, too many I believe, it causes God, their Father, to become secondary, perhaps even forgotten.  They may pray but their prayers are like the obligatory phone call that a son makes to his distant parent, not a warm loving conversation. They no longer serve Him in any ministry, letting the younger people do the work of His Church. At a stage in life when they could be a tremendous blessing to the life of Christ’s body, they choose to be absent from worship and service preferring the boat on the lake, or the house at the beach, or the ski slope to the sanctuary. 

This is a common human condition!
The temptations of prosperity are different from those we experience in desperate times.

Reading Moses’ words to the Israelites that are ancient, I find them timely and still relevant. The father of Israel knew that settling in Canaan and living in prosperity had a possibly dangerous consequence. He told the people “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.”  Moses reminds them of God’s faithfulness, that He has cared for them right down to their basic needs.

Now, they are going to experience a new kind of temptation. “The LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.”  He would provide for them, give them the resources they needed to become a settled people, able to care for their daily needs. That’s a good thing, right?

Yes, but … he warns –  “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 8:1-14, NIV)

“Do not forget the LORD.” In contrast to those who seem to outgrow God, there are many who mature in their faith, who become beautiful, stable, fruitful saints. John, in the Revelation, hears God describe those who are faithful in a unique way. “All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write my God’s name on them, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And they will have my new name inscribed upon them.” (Revelation 3:12, NLT)  They become part of the strong supporting structure in God’s work, known primarily as belonging to HIM, inscribed with honor by the Lord Himself. They are welcomed into eternity, home forever with their Father! What a glorious destiny, one that is incomparably richer than any earthly achievement or pleasure.

Here is a word from the Word. It is a prayer of the mature.  Psalm 90 is a reflection on life, a reminder that we never really outgrow God.  As you read these words today, may they keep your love for your Father vital. “A prayer of Moses the man of God. Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” (Psalm 90:1, NIV)  “The length of our days is seventy years— or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10, NIV)  So, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NIV) Along the way, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.” (Psalm 90:14-15, NIV)  Amen

__________________

Good, Good Father
(what a song, let it bless you today)

I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a Good Good Father
It’s who You are, It’s who You are
It’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, It’s who I am
It’s who I am

I’ve seen many searching for answers
Far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers
Only You provide
Because You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Love so undeniable I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love love love

Anthony Brown | Pat Barrett © 2014 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Common Hymnal Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Housefires Sounds (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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