“I’ve always thought of God as…good,” Helen Hunt whispers brokenly in her film Then She Found Me. “But what if…”
Bette Midler’s character says, “He’s just like us,” and she goes on to name human failings like busy, distracted, unreliable.
Sunday morning, my pastor preached one of those stay-with-you-and-forever-change-how-you-view-something sermons on The Lord’s Prayer. It was on the first line only: “Our Father, which art in heaven.” That’s it. That one line.
He said, when Jesus began teaching his disciples how to pray with “Our Father,” the term father would have stunned his listeners. Old Testament Jews viewed God with a distant awe, a reverence for His majesty which kept their faces averted. We have become so accustomed to thinking of God as our father, we have lost something invaluable. He also said “heaven” wasn’t an address. It’s not so we know where to look when praying. Instead, it is a testament to God’s authority. He is the one who rules the heavens and uses the earth as a footstool; the only One to command every knee to bow and every tongue to confess He is LORD.
God is not like any earthy father. This is important. Really, really important. He is not just like us. What’s so critical about that? The girl sexually abused by her father (or any father figure) needs to know. The boy abandoned by his father needs to know. The woman kicked out of her home needs to know. The man unsure how to raise his own children for lack of a role model needs to know. Children who worshipped their fathers only to find they had feet of clay need to know. Let this truth permeate your soul: God isn’t like your earthly father.
In the movie, Helen Hunt’s character makes bad choices out of her overriding desire to become a mother. Then, when it doesn’t work out, she blames God. How can He be good if He allowed such pain and misery in her life? God is not like an earthly father. He doesn’t always protect us from our home-made messes. He doesn’t rush in to save the day or sweep aside the consequences just because we’re sorry.
But He is also the Father with all authority in heaven and earth. He can take all our chaos, the ones we create ourselves and the ones forced upon us by the sin of another, and work it for our good. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” For several years, I’ve known the “all things” included sin perpetrated against me when I was innocent. But now God tells me the “all things” also means my own sin…the muck I got into all by myself. Imagine that. Even when I have blown it, even when the pig sty I’m wallowing in was my own choice, even then God can take it and (after I’ve repented) work it out for my good.
No, God is not like any earthly father. He’s much better…infinitely better. He rules the universe, bends all power to His will, and we get to crawl into His lap and say, “Daddy, I need Your help.”
Until next time,