Who's Your Father?
by PastorErick | 2/20/17, 9:23 AM
If you want to get people talking, all you have to do is ask them about their father. Instantly, you will either hear stories of heroism or abandon; you will hear stories of pain or great joy; you will hear stories of great pride or great shame. But one thing’s for sure: You’ll hear stories…
One night a couple years ago, while sitting in a dimly lit basement at a Men’s Bible Study, the discussion of fatherhood came up. Specifically, we were talking about who God is as Father. In response to the conversation, an older man in our group shared how difficult it was for him to relate to God by that title. For when he thought of that word “father”, he couldn’t help but think of his “earthly father” who was abusive and drunk; he couldn’t help but think of a father who was never there; a father who was harsh and impossible to please. He went on to tell a particularly gut wrenching story that encapsulated for him what his father was like:
“I remember one moment when I was a little kid I was playing baseball on this little league team. My team was winning, but the other team was up and threatening to score. It all came down to one final play. If the kid who was up to bat got a hit, their runners score and they win. If the kid hits it out, my team wins. Sure enough the kid hit a fly ball to the outfield. It was soaring right toward me! Everything hinged on whether I caught that ball….
Well, I dropped it and the other team won the game.
“I felt terrible, but the thing I remember most about that day was my father’s reaction. His face was filled with disappointment and disgust.” My friend began to tear up as if he was reliving the experience right before our eyes. He said, “My father was so embarrassed by me that he refused to talk to me or even look at me the whole ride home.”
Unfortunately, many feel that their heavenly father is the exact same way. Every time you drop the ball, every time you make a mistake, you’re prone to thinking that God is sitting up in heaven looking down at you with disappointment and disgust. Indeed, our mistakes would justify such a reaction from a Holy God.
If one sees their heavenly Father like this, there are basically two reactions: One reaction is to try harder hoping to gain his approval- we’ll promise to do better, that we won’t struggle with the same sins and struggles and that next time, we’ll CATCH THAT BALL!
But of course, if we drop the ball again and again and again, it’s only a matter of time before we start to see this father as impossible to please. That leads to the second reaction: We’ll run from Him, believing Him to be too stern and uncaring. Like the prodigal in the famous story, we’ll move as far away from Him as possible. We’ll rebel against Him and justify it because we think our Father will never be satisfied anyway.
But this is NOT the Christian’s Father….
A few days after I heard my friend’s story, I was sitting at my boys’ final basketball game of the season. Though in this league, they weren’t actually playing for a championship, in my boys’ minds that was exactly what this game was: Game 7 of the NBA Finals!
Throughout the game, my sons’ team was behind (not by much, but in games for kids this age, it doesn’t take much). Thankfully, near the end of the game our team had fought back and were just 1 point behind with under a minute left. The other team had the ball, when suddenly, the ball was stolen! A small lanky kid with big goggle glasses had it and was awkwardly dribbling down the court! It seemed all the other team’s players were trying to swipe at the ball, but somehow this lanky kid kept on dribbling- past the half-court line (!), past the three point line (!), just past the free throw line! And then, with just a little time left in the game, he turns around, and throws up one of the weirdest looking shots I have ever seen….. and defying all known laws of the universe…. IT WENT IN!!!!!
I’ll never forget what happened next: As soon as that lanky, goggle-eyed kid made the shot, the first thing he did was turn to look at his Dad-
Would Dad notice?
Would Dad be proud?
I looked to this kid’s father and indeed, he did notice! The father was clapping exuberantly and the look on his face exuded so much joy, so much pride, so much love for his son! The kid jumped up and down in celebration, grinning from ear to ear.
Can you imagine your heavenly Father looking at you the same way? Can you imagine a God who always and at all times looks at you not with disgust or embarrassment over your dropped balls or missed shots, but sees you always as if you’ve caught the ball and made the game winning shot?
Christian, the good news for you is that your heavenly Father does look at you that way. Though you have dropped the ball, and missed the shot countless times, He is not mad at you. He is not disappointed in you. He is not disgusted with you. Because Jesus (God’s Son) always hit the shot, because Jesus endured the pain of the cross and declared “It Is Finished!”, because this Son rose from the dead in victory, the game is over; He has won for you! He is your advocate, seated on the throne interceding on your behalf. He has washed you of your sins in baptism and He has given you His body and blood at the Table. Therefore, your heavenly Father rejoices over your lanky, uncoordinated, ball-dropping, shot-missing self as if you’ve never missed a shot at all.
As David Powlison says, “God doesn’t love you just the way you are. He loves you just the way Jesus is.“ And that is good news!
What is the reaction to a Father like this? Well, it looks like humility. It looks like trust. So, come to him this morning with your dropped balls and missed shots. He's not ashamed to call you His child....
Grace and Peace,
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