Eugene Peterson’s book Eat this Book teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. Our early Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. This passage from Romans 8 reminds us that our relationship with God is the model for fatherhood. Our Father who is in heaven leads us on an adventurous journey in the kingdom on earth and promises an unbelievable inheritance in the kingdom eternal.
I AM THE GOD WHO FATHERS YOU
“So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! (Romans 8: 12-17; MSG)
God was Abba to Jesus and that relationship teaches human fathers how to be good fathers to their children. The Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6: 8-15) reveals how Jesus thought about God, His Father. God is present, pure, and powerful. He provides, pardons, and protects. Many of us had fathers who were not at all like Abba God. Father’s Day may be a hard day because our memories are not of a loving provider who protected us, but as someone who caused fear, distrust, and pain, someone we needed protection from. Often we project those fearful feelings about our earthly fathers on to God. But our God is not that kind of father. God has only feelings of love for God’s children.
♥ If you are a father or grandfather or serve as a “father figure” to neighbor children or through a mentoring program or as a teacher, pastor, or doctor, choose one of the characteristics listed in bold (under the CHEWING section above) each day and try to discern if that is how you are seen by the children you influence.
♥ If your father was someone who caused fear and distrust, ask the Holy Spirit to help you to choose to forgive your earthly father. Then try to open your heart to your loving Heavenly Father.
♥ What difference does it make if you pray to God as Lord or “Heavenly Father” as opposed to “Papa” or”Daddy?” This week use those childlike terms in your prayers. Share with a friend or write in your journal about how you felt using those words. Also think about how your prayers changed when you did.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“The Father Jesus addresses in the Garden [of Gethsemane] is the one he has known all his life and found to be bountiful in his provision, reliable in his promises and utterly faithful in his love. He can obey the will that sends him to the cross with hope and expectation because it is the will of Abba whose love has been proved . . . . This is not legal obedience driven by commandment, but trusting response to known love” (Thomas Smail in The Forgotten Father).
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