Our Heavenly Father
This past Sunday, a group of men met at the home of Clay Perry, gorged on breakfast “slop” (since men cannot call it casserole), bacon, biscuits, fruit, and other assorted breakfast items. We topped it off with Kim Hurt’s world-famous strawberry cake and sat around ready to pop the button on our pants. It was a delightful time spend with food and friends.
The real feast was found in sharing the bread of life. We opened our Bibles and studied the incredible truths about fatherhood. We learned about disciplining our children fairly, consistently, and intentionally. We talked about winning the hearts of our children. Fathers should not merely control their children’s behaviors, but should also confront and connect to their hearts. We learned that there was a difference between the ways you handle boys versus girls. We were challenged to stop being distracted from the home by work, television, or hobbies and to again put God first, our wives second, and our children third in our lives. We are warned about ways we can exasperate our children, which we are commanded not to do in Ephesians 6.4 and Colossians 3.21. We reread the commandments in Deuteronomy 6.1-7 that tells us to be spiritual leaders in our homes. It was an incredible hour and a half of God-centered teachings on fatherhood. Any man who was not there missed an incredible gathering (and at the risk of being shamelessly promoting, there is another great class on April 24th from 5-7 p.m.).
As we spoke about parenting from a man’s perspective, I was continually reminded of God’s fathering of me. All of these different jobs and responsibilities I have a father, which I fail at so miserably, He does perfectly for me. He is the perfect Father. We pray this all the time. We call Him “Our Heavenly Father” when we pray. This is probably, behind Lord, our most common designation for Him. While we acknowledge this title, I don’t know that we always acknowledge the work that goes with the title.
How often do you let Him discipline you? Hebrews clearly teaches that God disciplines His children (Hebrews 12.7-11). God wants us to be taught and trained. He wishes for all of us come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2.3-4). God is willing to let us suffer because it will bring us increased character, hope (Rom 5.3-5), and perseverance (Jam 1.2-3). God wants us to be better than we currently are. God desires for our maturity. He helps us to grow from babies into fully functioning adults.
How often do you let Him win your heart? As a good Father, He has provided for you all the emotional and spiritual support you could need (2 Cor 1.3-7). He provides salvation from your sins, comfort when you’re depressed, mercy when you’re guilty, and love when you feel forgotten. He constantly gives you honor and compassion. Have you let this sink in lately, realizing His great sacrificial love He shares? Spend some time thinking about the good He does for you and let Him have control of your heart again.
How often do you recognize His constant attention and your constant distraction? God is an incredible God who constantly keeps His attention on you. The psalmist says we cannot escape God’s watchful eyes and asks, “Where can I go from your presence” (Ps 139.7-12). How often do we find ourselves distracted from God? While God gives you the attention you don’t deserve, we fail to give God the attention He so rightly deserves.
How often do you let Him lead you spiritually? He is the source of every good thing (James 1.17). He made spiritual goodness possible. He provided the words on which we base every decision in our lives. He is the source and author of the Bible. He cleans our hearts and puts us in a righteous state again, redeeming us from our own mistakes. He leads us spiritually where we could never go on our own.
So, next time you pray to “Our Heavenly Father,” remember what an incredible Father He really is. Remember that He loves us, no matter how unworthy we are to be loved. Remember that He lifts us up when we fall, no matter how much damage we have done to ourselves. Remember that He shares His love with us and while we cannot physically embrace our spiritual Father, we can know assuredly that He loves us.