I often see advertisements and social-media posts telling us that there are abandoned and abused animals that need a forever home. This does not suggest that people think animals or humans live forever. It is really a way of saying that these animals need a home that will be their home all the rest of their lives.
There is something about a home that we want to last a lifetime. It doesn’t matter whether we are animal or people, a home that is always there for us is of huge significance. This is just as important for people who have too many stories of broken homes. People have watched their parents get divorced and break up their home. They have watched one of their family members get very sick and die, leaving a huge hole in their home. They have family members who work away from home for long periods of time, and it makes it feel like something huge is missing. Some people know what it feels like when one family member disowns them and doesn’t want them to be part of their home any longer.
All that to say that people often feel abandoned, abused, and neglected, and have a deep, gaping wound in their heart that can only be healed by a forever home of the best kind.
So, when Jesus taught his friends that we can pray, “Our Father in heaven,” he presented every generation of these last days with the wonderful invitation to not only have a Forever Home, but to have a Forever Father. Here’s how this works.
There are three things in Jesus’ welcoming first line of prayer: “Father,” “in heaven,” and, “our.” “Father” means that God is a Father. This does not mean he is like our dads. Our dads were really supposed to try to be like him! People need fathers. We need to know what it is like for a father to love us.
Because it is God who is “Father”, that means that we can have a Father no matter what we have experienced in life in relation to our dads, or in relation to men. If we have a good dad, we still need this Father. If we have had a bad dad, we need to know how good this Father is. If our Dad died, we can have a Father walk with us throughout our whole lives.
It isn’t just that God is a good option for a Father, as if we could go to an online-store and pick out the dad we always wanted. It is that God is our Creator, so he is the one person everyone has to deal with. But Jesus, who knows this Father best, doesn’t want us to think of him as some evil king who gets to do whatever he wants with the universe he created. Jesus wants us to know that his Father is the very best Father anyone could ever wish for.
“In heaven,” tells us that God is different than any other Father we could think of. On one side, this assures us that God is the perfect Father. We cannot compare him to any father on earth, good or bad. He is better than the best father, and the comforter and healer to those whose hearts have been broken by the worst of dads. We can’t think of him as just like one of us. I was a pretty good dad, but I left my children with hurts and heartaches that I couldn’t fix for them. Only God could be the complete and perfect Father they always wanted.
When we think of God as our Father in heaven, we must not think of him as far away, because Jesus came very close to us to make the Father known to us. But think of him as different, and better, than any other dad here on earth. Jesus is inviting us to pray to him.
“Our” Father means that Jesus wants us to know this Father. Without God as our Father, we are like orphans living on the street trying to find scraps of food, and rags of clothes, just to survive. We are like orphans living outside of God’s kingdom, seeing that he is a Father to other children, but not knowing him as our Father.
We might feel sorry for ourselves in a hopeless kind of way because we see that he is a Father, and we see that other children enjoy him as a Father, but we believe that he could never be our Father because we weren’t born into his family.
However, God has a very special message for us. He does have only one Son who is his natural child, or his child by divine nature. But, all the rest of God’s children only become his children through adoption.
This means that anyone who sees that God is a Father, and wants God to be his or her Father, can sign up for adoption. If you are tired of living like an orphan, someone who has lost all your connection with the God who created you, Jesus has spoken to us, and through the Bible, he still speaks today, telling us that we could know God as “our” Father.
We don’t need to know how all of this works that God could be our Father, or how it is that Jesus can bring us to the Father. What we need is to have faith that because Jesus said we can know God as our Father, we will tell God right now that we want him as our Father. And, if we know in our minds that God is our Father because Jesus is our Lord and Savior, but in our hearts we still don’t know what it feels like for God to be our Father, we can ask him to make this known to us.
Sometimes I pray a prayer that I call the “Whatever it takes” kind of prayer. It is for when I am not exactly sure what a passage of the Bible means, or how God will do for me what his word promises, but I have faith that this is God speaking to me through his word, and so I tell God, “Father, whatever it takes for me to have this the way you mean it, please give it to me!”
In the case of knowing God as Father, we can pray, “God in heaven, no matter what you have to do to bring me into this relationship with you so that you are my Forever Father, I ask you to do it!”
We can tell God, “I have faith that you are a Father, and that you adopt people like me to be your children, and I want that. I know I have done bad things to make myself like an orphan to you, but I want to be your child. I know that Jesus teaches us the truth about you, and I have faith in Jesus telling me the truth, so I want you to do whatever you have to do so that I can know you as my Father, just as Jesus taught it to us in the Bible.”
I know that, when I was a child, I wanted to know this God who was making himself known to me through the things he created (it was like the sky was telling me that God was there). At the same time, he was making himself known to me through his written word, the book he had made for us. And, although I didn’t really understand it so much back then, I was beginning to know that Jesus himself was the Word of God who was personally working in my life by his Holy Spirit so that I would know God as my Father.
Those things that God started doing in my life when I was a child, kept growing so that, by the time I was in grade six I knew for certain that Jesus had died for my sins, that God would forgive my sins if I received Jesus, and that I could receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior. In my early teenage years God made very clear to me that I was his, that all my sins were forgiven, and that I was his child.
Now, approaching my fifty-sixth birthday, I can add my testimony to the revelation of God’s word, as one trophy of the grace of God showing how broken, orphan-minded children can live a lifetime of getting to know God as Father. Jesus said that eternal life is to know his Father, and to know him, the Son of God who makes the Father known. Consider today as a day you are invited to him for the first time, or to know your heavenly Father better today than you have ever known him before. Either one would be wonderful.
© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ email@example.com
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)