Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Kind of Father Am I?

A long time ago, shortly after I became divorced, I did the Prodigal Son routine for a short time.  I went to a "far country" and lived riotously for a short time.  The Lord did not prevent me from making self destructive decisions, but He soon arranged for me to reap the consequences of my actions.  My riotous living was cut quite short and I went through a very low and depressing time.  In the midst of that time, as I was praying and throwing myself figuratively on the mercy of the Lord for the umpteenth time, a phrase came into my head, "What kind of father do you think I am?"  I believe that was the voice of God, the still, small voice in my head.  In the midst of my agonizing, He asked me this question, to which I really had no definitive answer.  The question floated in the back of my mind for years, as my situation changed, improved and the bad time passed.  I would toss around answers from time to time, but the truth was that I felt He was distant, uninterested, uninvolved, quick to give judgement and all powerful - not a mixture of traits that would inspire one to call Him, "Father" or "Dad" or to go to Him for advice or to confess one's own foibles and stupidity and expect to be comforted or understood.

No less than 10 years later, I was sitting on my bed and talking to the Lord, pondering the question again, and I "heard" the voice again interrupt my thoughts - "The kind that will never let you go" was what it said.  I'm still chewing on that thought and what it implies.

Now I am in a different stage of life, and it is another valley of trouble.  Suffice it to say that my husband and I are in a very precarious position financially - one false move and we are in deep trouble.  God forbid that one of us should lose our job in the upcoming year.  The worst part of this is that we have done a great deal of this damage to ourselves - we have been the Prodigal Son again in a different way.  When we contemplate the situation, we feel great angst, worry and fear for the future as we are no longer young or able to bounce back from setbacks or even to find new jobs, really.  Our civilization honors the young and dishonors the old and at a certain age, it is not a good idea to be looking for a job - unless, of course, you are a child of God,  and thus..."we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (ESV, Romans 8:28).  Important - God's best for us may not include finding a new job, but Romans 8:28 is true, nevertheless.  Whatever God brings into our lives as His children is to mold us into a reflection of His Son.  He will provide whatever we need to accomplish that aim, including the physical needs of the body like shelter and food and rest.

Every day I am a flawed human being who often makes some wrong decision, whether it is to sleep through my morning quiet time instead of seeking the face of the Lord, or whether it is some other sinful thing I do, whether a sin of omission or commission - if there is anything I am good at, it is being flawed.  Like Paul, I can cry out, "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." (ESV, Romans 7:22-25)

Today, as I pondered our situation and happened to turn to the story of the Prodigal Son in my Bible reading, I thought about who the Father was in that parable:

*  He let the son take his inheritance and go - our inheritance, figuratively, is spiritual
*  He waited for the son's return, but did not interfere or rescue - we return, after each sin - spiritually.
*  Once the son turned back towards home, the father met him at the door, not waiting to be      approached, but also not going out in search.
*  When the son returned, he no longer lived in want - when we return spiritually, when we seek His face, we are comforted by His promises, we trust in Him and His provision and do not fear tomorrow, whatever it may hold.
*  When the son returned, the Father rejoiced, totally accepted him and loved him as before, as if the sin had not occurred.  

It seems to me, in my limited understanding, that "the kind who will never let you go" will go on being my Father regardless of what I do, until I die.  My salvation is sure.  In addition, the "kind that will never let you go" is also the kind that never gives up as long as there is breath.  He will continue to mold me to the image of His Son, work His will in my life, work with who I am, who He knows me to be, who He allowed to be created and who He accepted in salvation.  He will never give up on me in frustration and say, "forget this one and move on."  Never.

Lastly - one of the most important points - in the parable, Jesus called one "Father" and one "son", to describe the relationship between the two.  From our flawed human relationships, we know how powerful and how loving a father/son relationship can be.  We know what it is to be a helpless baby dependent on our human father for sustenance and love.  Human fathers run the gamut from great to totally evil. In Christ's analogy, however, the Father is God, who is perfect and who is love itself - no better Father can be had, and He is truly, in every only good sense of the word - our Father, whom we can depend on and trust to the end.

As you can see, I am still working on "What kind of father do you think I am" "The kind that will never let you go."  I have obviously still not worked through it all and may  never completely  comprehend it.  I still don't really have a feeling of "abba father" when I think of God, or feel the urge to climb up in His "lap", but I do have a certain knowledge that He is Creator of the Universe and what He says goes.  I do have a certain knowledge that He loves me, this I know from His Word, and that I belong to Him.  I also have a certain knowledge that His attributes include perfect love - this I also know from His Word.  If you put all that together - He is my Father, He is all powerful, He loves me and He is in charge of my life - well, that is enough for me for now in this season of life.

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