Northwest University, where I taught part-time for several years, frequently sends out an email with a “mystery photo,” promising a five dollar gift certificate to the first person who identifies the object. I’m not offering a prize, but . . . do you have any ideas about this one from a couple of weeks ago?
I think a similar “mystery image” sometimes appears in conversation. Someone says something and, while some element is familiar in an odd way, at that moment you are not able to see the significance. That happened to me last week. I was at lunch with a number of Christians. I had never before met the person across the table from me, although he knew something of my story—“I thought you moved to Seattle?” I related briefly that God had taken us to Seattle and brought us back to California. I said something about my ongoing effort to discern what work God has for us now. I don’t remember the exact words of his next remark, but it was something like, “Yeah, I’m not like Abraham. I’ve never really gotten any direction from God about work, so I just do what is right in front of me.” I made some comment about Abraham and told him I believe have heard from God about life decisions on a number of occasions, but in my present situation feel the need to look at circumstances to discern God’s plan. Someone else down the table raised an unrelated question and the conversation went elsewhere.
A couple of days ago God brought this brief exchange to mind, not focused on the particular words spoken so much as the core beliefs which gave birth to the words—core beliefs that are common among Christians, but are fundamentally at odds with Truth. Like the photo (of the top cable on a tennis net), the words sounded oddly familiar, but their significance was lost to me. Then, as I was re-reading a part of Eldredge’s Fathered by God in which he asserts that our “shared dilemma” is that our “core assumptions about the world boil down to this: we are on our own to make life work. We are not watched over. We are not cared for. . . . When we are hit with a problem, we have to figure it out ourselves, or just take the hit. . . .”
As I pondered this and talked with Papa about it, I concluded this was the thrust, the “context” if you would, for the brother’s comment. What is more, I realized that that “core assumption” was part of my thinking at times as well—even amid my seeking to “discern” what God has for me, there has been some sense that “I need to figure this out myself.” Eldredge concludes his paragraph with words which are even more convicting: “Whatever the reason, our experience of this world has framed our approach to life. We believe we are fatherless.”
I’m not saying we don’t talk to God using words like “Father” or even “Papa.” I mean, there are times when we (me and you) speak and live as if God is not actively engaged with us as our Papa. Our words and feelings disclose some remaining inclination to approach life’s problems as if we are on our own—the solution depends on me—rather than upon a Father who is present, loves me deeply, and is engaged with me in addressing the problem. Again, I quote Eldredge,
You have a good Father. He is better than you thought. He cares. He really does. He’s kind and generous. He’s out for your best. This is absolutely central to the teaching of Jesus . . ..
Think about that: Father God’s goodness and kind intentions toward you are central to what Jesus does and says. Better yet, talk with Papa about whether this is true.
As I thought on it God reminded me of G. Campbell Morgan’s assertion that the request of the disciples (in Luke) is not essentially “teach us HOW to pray” (as we often treat “the Lord’s prayer”), but is more akin to “teach us to be praying.” They saw Jesus “prayed without ceasing” and wanted to live the same way. Jesus—who knew He was loved by Abba—says, in essence, know and live into the love of Abba (Papa, Daddy) in heaven (Our Abba, Who Is in heaven . . . ). Yes, He IS holy and all powerful, King of the universe—and you are His beloved sons and daughters—live as those loved by your Papa in Heaven and you’ll talk with him often and openly about all He is doing in the world, in you, and for you.
Thanks, Papa, for reminding me again—in yet another context—that “I am a dearly beloved, blood bought, Child of The King.” Correct our faulty thinking, heal the wounds which cause us to feel we have to figure life out on our own, renew our minds. Enable us to see your hand and hear your voice in the midst of our struggles. Let us experience your love more, and may our love for you increase in response.
Thank you Jesus!
Live as one loved by Papa, because you are.