A friend who has given the last 2 decades of his life to helping men coming out of prison says that a common factor that led to troubles is the lack of a good father. Either the father is absent or he has so much dysfunction in his own life that he cannot be the Dad to his family that is needed. There is strength found in a family that has healthy parents, both mother and father. Each provides unique nurturing to the child, hopefully providing guidance and wisdom both in words and model. It is my opinion that the disintegration of the family is a leading cause of our social dysfunction in America. We need strong, intact families that give structure, security, and abundant love to our children.
Today there is Good News for the family of God. He is a Father to us all! “O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8, NIV) Knowing that there is One who loves us, Who cares for us, leads us to grow in grace, to find rest within His embrace. I remember, oh so many years ago, having the privilege of gathering up my children in my arms when a knee was skinned or a heart was broken. I was a source of strength and comfort because I was their Dad. Though they are now well into mid-life, they still call and share life with me, though they are well aware of their Dad’s human weaknesses and vulnerability. I’m still their father, able to counsel and comfort.
Is God truly your Father or is He a distant deity, ‘out there, somewhere’ but beyond knowing? The Scripture teaches us of the Father’s love so that we do not know Him only as Creator or Judge! Yes, He made us and He will call us to account but the primary way the Scripture reveals God to us is as our Father.
The New Testament takes the concept a step beyond telling us that God is our ‘Abba’ a more intimate word rather like our term “Dad.” Paul was inspired to teach us that we can approach Him in the way that a beloved child would seek out her Daddy. “You have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16, NLT)
Jesus’ model prayer begins not with “Almighty God” or “Great Creator” or “Master of all.” He invites us to converse with “Our Father in heaven.” Is that a hard thing for you to grasp because your earthly father was absent, or mean, or so consumed by his own life that he was not your Dad? Jesus reminds us that God is a good Father! “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:9-11, NLT)
Our Father loves us so much that He will correct and discipline, not out of angry frustration, but for our good. I admit that some of my some the ‘discipline’ of my children happened not so much for their good but because I was fatigued or frustrated. But, our Father in Heaven never acts because He is in a “bad mood.” That is why we are told to “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!” (Hebrews 12:7-9, NIV)
I’m a day late but to all the Dads, I say “Happy Father’s Day” and I pray you know the joy of truly loving your children, engaged with them in their joys and sorrows, providing guidance, and praying for them.
Remember, no matter your experience here, you have a Father! Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal the depth of your Father’s love to you. That is one of the most healing truths in all of the Word. Know this – God is not the dreaded Authority Figure who is watching for your failure so He can punish you. He is the Waiting Father, whose grace is amazing, whose mercy is deep and wide, and who acts always for your ultimate good. When that is settled into your heart and mind, you will pray with faith, live with peace, and find richer relationships in this world that rest in the security of your intimate love of the Father.
Here is a word from the Word. May this truth live in us.
“You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children
because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!”
Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain
that you are not a slave, but a child?
And if you are a child, you’re also an heir,
with complete access to the inheritance.” (Galatians 4:6-7, The Message)
I’ve carried a burden for too long on my own
I wasn’t created to bear it alone
I hear Your invitation to let it all go
I see it now I’m laying it down
And I know that I need You
I run to the Father
I fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding
No reason to wait
My heart needs (found) a surgeon
My soul needs (found) a friend
So I’ll run to the Father
Again and again
And again and again
You saw my condition
Had a plan from the start
Your Son for redemption
The price for my heart
I don’t have a context
For that kind of love
I don’t understand
I can’t comprehend
All I know is I need You
My heart has been in Your sights
Long before my first breath
Running into Your arms
Is running to life from death
I feel this rush deep in my chest
Your mercy is calling out
Just as I am You pull me in
And I know I need You now
Cody Carnes | Matt Maher | Ran Jackson
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