Out of the Abundance of the Heart / Healing Help 6

Healing Help 6: Come to Daddy’s House!

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Galatians 4:4-7 NLT

“God looks at his people as children of a family who are happy that those who have done only a little bit are as much loved as those who accomplish much.”

Henri Nouwen

The Law was slavery. Because of what Jesus did for us, we are no longer slaves, but God’s own kids. Law, and the slavery to the law, meant rewards, benefits, and consequences were always transactional. You do something, you get something. You don’t do something; you avoid the penalty. Jesus changed the nature of our interaction with God. It’s no longer a transaction. We’re not slaves, earning better treatment by better behavior. We’re not employees, trading our work for His reward. Paul said that would make Him indebted to us, and that can never be. (Romans 4:4) He doesn’t bless us because He owes us, He blesses us because we’re His kids, His heirs. Daddy loves us.

God is God. Of all the things He could have put in our hearts at the moment of salvation, He planted in us the Spirit of adoption that causes us to cry “Abba! Father!” He could have inspired us to cry “Big Boss Man,” or “Mighty God,” or “Holy One,” or anything He wanted. Of all possible words, He chose “Father.” Conviction for our sinfulness brings us to cry out to God for forgiveness. We call upon the Name of the Lord, believing that Christ has been raised from the dead. Transformation takes place. Our heart cry goes from a fearful “God, help me!” to a jubilant, “Daddy!” (Romans 8:14-16)

God knew that the concept of “Father” as He means it is so important that He put it in our hearts at conversion. Because of our fallen condition and sometimes disappointing experiences, we have difficulty grasping what God intends when He says “Father.” To help us comprehend this, our all-knowing God gave us a beautiful story to illustrate His Father-heart. He wants you to understand what He means when He says He’s your Father.

The story that we call “The Prodigal Son” is one of the best-known passages in the bible. Indeed, just reading it often moves people to tears because they identify with the plight of the wayward child and are touched by the grace of the welcoming father. In Luke chapter 15 Jesus is teaching on the passion of God to retrieve that which has been lost. This parable is better entitled “The Parable of the Loving Father.” (You might want to pencil it in in your Bible) With that new name in mind, take a few minutes to open your Bible and read the story. It’s Luke 15:11-32.

Notice that when the younger son left, he had already received all that he had coming to him in his father’s estate. He wasted it on a sinful lifestyle. The father owed him nothing. He came home asking to be a servant. (Verses 12, 13, 18, 19) This is a story of a son who rebelled, followed his own human desires, and made a horrible mess of his life. He headed for home knowing he deserved nothing but hoped he could simply have a slave’s portion. Your Father loves you, even when you have wasted all He’s given you by your rebellion and sin. This story reveals how your Heavenly Father looks at you when you fail.

Let the Father teach you a few things from this beautiful story:

  • Your Father is looking for you, even when you’ve made a terrible mess. Verse 20 says, “And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming.” The Father wants you home more than you want to be there. From the moment you walk away, He never stops looking for you to turn around. He sees your heart turn even before you start for home.
  • Your Father will come and meet you where you are. He ran to meet his wayward son. He wasn’t just waiting; He was eagerly waiting. The Father’s not waiting for you to work your way back to Him, or undo all the mess you made, or to do actions to convince Him you have changed. He is running toward you, come on home! (Verse 20)
  • Your Father loves you even in your messiness. Before the son got all the way home the father embraced him and kissed him. Your Father loves you and embraces you and acknowledges you with His kiss, even while you still smell of pigs. He loves you as you are. (Verse 20)
  • Your Father is still your Father. You may think you are unworthy, but the Father doesn’t see it that way. You don’t have to be a slave. The moment you start for home, He restores your sonship privileges. He immediately gave four things that let us know the immenseness of His love (Verses 22 & 23):
    • Restored identity: The robe marks the child as part of the father’s family. It enables all the servants to recognize that he is to be honored, and all the local riff-raff to recognize that he is not to be messed with. He is thee child of the Master of the estate. Your Father wants everyone to know you’re His kid and to treat you with respect. That includes God’s holy angels, as well as Satan and all his little helpers. Your failures are none of their business. (Galatians 3:26-29)
    • Restored Authority. The ring was a signet. It was used to put an official stamp on business correspondence and documents. It was the “Visa/Mastercard” of the day. It meant that the wearer could do business in the name off the father. Your Father trusts you to do business in His name. (Colossians 3:17)
    • Restored Freedom. Slaves were kept shoeless so they couldn’t escape. The son got new shoes so he could go wherever he wanted. He was a free man. Your Father wants you to be free from every sin and every wisp of legalistic bondage that may try to cling to you. You have new shoes: You are free. (Galatians 5:1)
    • Restored Joy and Abundance. The Father throws a party every time you come home. Even if some of the family is upset and thinks you should pay for your delinquency (Verses 25-32), your Father wants you to enjoy the delight of being part of the family. He loves you so much that He doesn’t just kill any calf; He kills the fatted calf. You deserve His best because you’re His child. The abundance of the house is yours even though He owes you nothing. You’re a son, and Daddy loves you.

Here’s the point. Sonship has its privileges. You are treated as family, not by the standard of an earthly fallen and flawed father, but by the standard of a gracious and powerful Heavenly Father. Even when you rebelliously squander His blessings, He receives you back with joy. He welcomes you as you are and restores you to all the privileges of being a son in His house. You need never be afraid to come to your Father, nor should you ever believe that He’s holding back your healing because of your failures. You are not healed as a transaction like a slave. Healing is yours because you’re a son. Daddy loves you even when you don’t feel worthy!

NEXT STEPS: Read and re-read this story of the loving Father. Do it every day. Let it sink in. Take some time this week to make note of all the things you’ve done or not done that you think God is still angry about. Nearly all of us have some. When you start to pray, what nagging doubts do you have because you don’t feel worthy to receive His blessing? As you think of these things, simply confess them to Him. That means to just tell Him about them. It’s just between you and your Father. The Apostle John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(1 John 1:9 NKJV) Either He forgives you, or He is unfaithful, a liar. He’s not a liar, you are cleansed! Now, say this out loud until you don’t feel awkward saying it:

“My Father welcomes me into His loving arms even when I have failed miserably. He takes me as I am, restores me to perfect relationship, and gives me all the blessings of being His child. The robe, the ring, and the shoes are mine. It doesn’t matter how I feel. He never lies and He said I’m clean. Therefore, I am forgiven, cleansed and blessed with all the blessings He has to bestow. He’s not holding out on me. Kill the fatted calf, the party is started!”

Virgil Stokes

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