THE FATHER HEART OF GOD
By John Dawson
Have you ever wondered what God thinks of you? Is it hard for you to believe He loves you as much as the Bible says He does? God is so big and He sometimes seems so distant - but what is He really like? Do you really know Him? You've heard His instructions, but do you know anything about His emotions or His character?
One of the most wonderful revelations of the Bible is that God is our Father. What do you think of when you hear the word "father"? Do you automatically think of protection, provision, warmth, and tenderness? Or does the word "father" paint different kinds of pictures for you? God reveals Himself in the Bible as a gentle, forgiving Father, intimately involved with each and every detail of our lives. It is not only a beautiful picture, but a true one. However, every person seems to have a different idea of what God is like, because they unconsciously tend to attach the feelings and impressions that they have of their own earthly father to their concept of their Heavenly Father. Each person's own experience with human authority is usually transferred over to how they relate to God. Good experiences bring us closer to knowing and understanding God, just as bad experiences create distorted pictures of our Father's love for us.
What did God have in mind when He created the family? The Bible says, "God makes a home for the lonely (Psalm 68:6 NASB) A family involves a circle of relationship including an adult male and female, into which tiny, dependent human beings are born and raised. Why do we enter the world as such helpless, inadequate persons, and then slowly grow up physically, mentally, and emotionally into self-sufficient adults? Have you ever wondered why God didn't come up with some sort of reproduction system that would produce a physically completed person such as His original creation of Adam and Eve?
I believe God wanted us to come into this world totally dependent and helpless, because He intends the family unit to be a place where His love is demonstrated to both parent and child. As parents we begin to really understand God's heart towards us as His children. And as children, it is God's will for us to see His love revealed through parental tenderness, mercy, and discipline.
But what if the ideal did not happen? What if you have been failed in some way by parental authority? So many have suffered hurt and rejection by their families that it is hard for them to see God as He really is. Understanding the character of God is essential if we are to love Him, serve Him, and be like Him
I want to talk about six different areas of misconception concerning God and His love for us. For ease of communication I will be referring almost exclusively to God's qualities of fatherhood. However, a full revelation of God's parental love is incomplete without the presence of the male and female attributes of parental affection. "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27 NASB) I want you to look back into your personal past and see if your relationship with God has been hindered in any way because of a failure or absence of tender loving care from one or both of your parents.
I. Parental Authority
Have you ever turned into the driveway of a friend's house to be greeted by the family dog? The foolish mutt will either cower away from you, trembling with fear, or leap upon you with an unwanted display of affection, demonstrated with tongue, tail, and dirty paws. The browbeaten puppy that cannot be induced to trust you has obviously been mistreated. The exuberant mongrel attempting to give you a facial with his tongue has obviously come from a loving home.
So it is when God approaches man. Our past experiences dictate our response when God reaches out to us. A weeping prophet named Hosea heard the voice of God saying, "When Israel was a child I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from Me. They sacrificed to the baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them." (Hosea 11:1-4 LB) God's authority is not harsh and vindictive, but to the contrary, He is unspeakably gentle and long-suffering.
The other day I rushed into my den urgently needing some information from my files. As I sorted frantically through my papers, my five-year-old son repeatedly blew his shrill tin whistle. I told him again and again to stop. There was a period of silence followed by a deafening blast right next to my ear, including a spray of saliva. I reached around, swatted him with the back of my hand and bellowed at him in anger. Immediately I felt that the Spirit of God had been grieved. I remembered the biblical statement that God is slow to anger and delights to be merciful. I took my son in my arms and asked him to forgive me. It was only right that I should correct his disobedience, but our children should always know that we discipline them because we love them, and not because we are venting our momentary frustration.
Our Heavenly Father is at this very moment being slandered and misrepresented all over the world by man's cruelty and selfishness. Not only in the home, but in all forms of human government. His laws of love have been ignored and our mangled hearts continue on in carrying out injustice to all those smaller and weaker than ourselves.
What horror is God seeing at this moment? A bedroom door bursts open. A small boy is slapped awake by a drunken and angry man in the middle of the night "The sprinklers are still on. It's a flood. I'll teach you, boy!" The terrified child is beaten mercilessly by the dark, hulking shape of a man he calls "Daddy."
A 15-year-old prostitute with blank, empty eyes, mechanically performs through a night of degradation on Hollywood Boulevard. She doesn't care what happens to her. She hasn't felt clean since the night she was molested by her own father.
A wounded generation stumbles through their youthful years, only to visit the same hurts on their own children. Generation after generation it goes on. Is there no one to comfort us? Who will father the children of men? Whose arms are big enough for all the lonely children of the world? Who weeps over our pains? Who will comfort us in our loneliness? ONLY GOD. A BROKEN-HEARTED FATHER who is rejected by the little ones He yearns to heal. Our problem is that we, like the browbeaten puppy, shrink away from the One who we assume will be like the other authorities in our lives. But He is not He is perfect love. It was God who gave this command to parents in Ephesians 6:4: "Parents don't keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord Himself approves."(LB)
II. Parental Faithfulness
Every promise of God will be fulfilled. He is consistently loving. His one heart motive remains the same through time and eternity. He never changes. He only desires to show love and forgiveness.
Do you distrust God? Our distrust hurts Him deeply. What if I came home to my wife and children after a long journey and they ran away from me when I opened the door and called their names. I would be terribly hurt.
You are God's child and even now He calls your name, but maybe deep in your heart you doubt His faithfulness. As a child you may have experienced the complete absence of a father because of death or divorce. Maybe you were orphaned by the demands of your parents' career? Or is it just the childhood memory of broken promises or neglect that haunts you? Some of you screamed for hours as babies but nobody came to relieve you of your discomfort and hunger. Some of you whimpered behind locked doors, a small child, forgotten and alone.
Do you have an inability to sense His presence with you? Is your heart soft towards God or hardened with cynicism and distrust? Look up into His eyes and see His love for you. "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you... I am with you always even until the end of the age. "(Heb. 13:5; Matt.28:20 NASB)
You may say to me, "But if He has loved me so much, then why haven't I felt Him or seen Him?" It isn't God who has failed you my friend, but I and those who know His love personally. Too many times we have failed to become His voice and His hands to those who do not know Him. Far too few allow themselves to be driven by the broken heart of Jesus into the dark corners of this world where the poor and needy wait Jesus is not attracted to pleasant places, but to hurting people. He pursues us with His love from our first breathing moment until the day we die.
Your Heavenly Father was there when you first walked as a child. He was there through hurts and disappointments. He is present now at this moment. You were briefly loaned to human parents who, for a few years, were supposed to have showered you with love like His love. But you are and always will be a child of God, made in His image. Your loving Father awaits even now with outstretched arms. What would keep you from Him?
Few people know God in all His loveliness while living this brief life. Many of us are like the thief who died on the cross next to Jesus. Outwardly he saw a bloody, disfigured body, but soon he began to perceive the true nature of Jesus, and at the last minute, entered by faith into the family of God. We too must see past the religious and commercial mutations of Jesus, and behold the God of Love who still stands with open arms saying, "I came that you might have life and that more abundantly." (John 10:10 NASB)
"Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, He remains faithful to us who are part of Himself and He will always carry out His promises to us. "(11 Tim.2:13 LB)