The Apple of His Eye: Finding the Father Heart of God
My Dad is a good storyteller. He tells of the time when I was about four and climbing a tree, I found myself rather stuck. I ended up hanging from a branch holding on for dear life, and when Dad came to rescue me I said ‘I knew you would come Dad’. That is the trust that a small child has for her father. I think that this is the kind of trust that God would have us place in Him. That through the stories of our lives, even when we are hanging on for dear life, that we would be grace dwellers, trusting His heart and knowing that He is our father.
If we are fortunate to have a father, Father’s Day is a good opportunity to celebrate and honour the father in our lives. Good dads are a gift. They are supremely important, playing a crucial role in the mental, emotional and spiritual development of the child. James Dobson from Focus on the Family says ‘I believe with everything in me that husbands hold the keys to the preservation of the family’. Fathers provide us with glimpses of how God feels about us.
My husband is an amazing father. He outwins me in the patience stakes any day. Granted, he is not with the children twelve hours a day like I am, but he is still pretty patient. And to honour him today, he was treated to a delightful assortment of handmade cards and rock paintings this morning, as well as breakfast in bed, a rare treat.
But, like mother’s day, I am painfully aware of those around me for whom Father’s Day is a day tinged with sadness. There are those who are fathers but have lost a child. There are those who have lost their Dad. There are many who have never known their Dad, or those for whom the paternal relationship is complicated or strained. There are wives who have lost a husband, whether through death or divorce, and parent their children alone. Their children have lost a Dad. One lady told me of a the time when her son’s Sunday School class were making Father’s Day cards for the Dad’s, blissfully unaware that this child’s Dad was no longer with them. We have to be so careful. A day set aside for celebration can be a day of pain and heartache for others.
Our generation has been named ‘The Fatherless Generation’. And one of the greatest wounds that a person can have, is the wounding from the absence of a Father. We can be aware of the needs of those around us who don’t have a father. Perhaps we need to find the fatherless, and for some men there is a call to fill the gap in the life of a fatherless friend. After all, scripture admonishes us to care for the orphan, as well as the widow. Perhaps we don’t know of many children who have lost both parents, but we are sure to know children for whom their father is not in the picture.
What picture does the word “father” paint for you? Is it one of security, protection, provision, and tenderness? Or does the word “father” paint a different picture for you? The Bible demonstrates that God had in mind from the beginning of time the concept of family. I believe it was His intention that the family unit was a place where His love is demonstrated to both parent and child.
But for most people, the reality did not quite match the ideal. Most parents do their very best. But so many people 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, and serve him. I had a good upbringing, but it took me a long time to trust God, because I wasn’t raised knowing Him. Sometimes it can be hard to trust what you can’t see. But God is there. The Bible says that we are ‘The Apple of His Eye’. We are the focus of His affections.
One of the most poignant revelations in the Bible is that God is our father. Have you ever thought about what God thinks about you? Are you aware of His extravagant love? It wasn’t until I became a parent that I understood how much God really loves us. God reveals Himself in the Bible as a gentle, forgiving Father, who knows us intimately and is acquainted with all our ways. However, every person seems to have a different idea of what God is like, and for some, their image of God may require healing. We unconsciously tend to attach the feelings and impressions that we have of own earthly father to their concept of our 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.
One of the best known scriptures about the father heart of God is in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15-11-32). We are all like this progigal son, in that we have all gone astray. But unlike humans, who often love conditionally, the love of God is unconditional. We can think of a little boy covered in mud after playing in the garden, we reject the mud, but not the boy.
Do you know the Father heart of God? God is our Abba Father, but what does this mean? Abba does not in this instance refer to the Swedish pop group of the seventies! The word Abba is an Aramaic word that would most closely be translated as “Daddy.” It was a common term that young children used in biblical times to address their fathers. It embodies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.”
Some of us know the love of God in our head, we might know the bible verses, but we haven’t experienced this in our heart. Have you experienced His generous love? Walking in the revelation of the fatherheart of God means that our life will be transformed. It means that we can rest securely in the love of God, which is a birthright for ever believer. It means that we will be provided for with His presence and gifts. We can receive His forgiveness and His discipline, knowing that God disciplines those that He loves. God wants to change us from glory to glory. He accepts us as we are, warts and all, but loves us too much to keep us how we are. He wants us to become more like Christ.
Walking in the revelation of the Father Heart of God means that we have ‘full assurance of hope’ as it says in the book of Hebrews. The devil may try to convince us that God doesn’t care, or other such lies, but God is greater, and He is calling His people, the apple of His eye, into great intimacy with Him. When I was preparing this blog post, one sentence came to mind. and it was simply this – ‘Tell them that I love them’.