Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: father

Adopted

I remember the last time my father blew up at me. He was 80, I was 30 and it was the same tirade that I had heard so many times before during my 30 years. I knew there was no use trying to argue, change the subject or yell back at him. He was not in control of himself at moments like this and any resistance would just aggravate him further. I just waited patiently for the storm to blow itself out.

I had become a Christian two years earlier and when the blast was over I found a quiet place to pray. “Oh God,” I asked, “why couldn’t I have had a better father?”

The answer was immediate: “But you do, you have a perfect father.” I have clung to that ever since.

This is what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote in Romans 8:15: “ For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

My father sank into dementia not long after that, and soon he didn’t even know me. He was 50 when I was born, after all. I really think he meant well, but he simply didn’t know how to cope with starting a family at that age. Our heavenly Father does not have that problem. Even when we stray from Him and suffer the consequences, He does not drive us farther away, but calls us back.

Peace in time of war

There are four main religious groups in Lebanon: Maronite Christians, descended from the old Syriac church and united with the Roman Catholic Church, yet maintaining some of the old ways, including a married priesthood; Shiite Muslims; Sunni Muslims and Greek Orthodox. A power sharing agreement was worked out after the Second World War that worked well for a number of years. Lebanon prospered, became a major tourist destination and Beirut became the banking and financial centre of the Middle East.

That changed in 1975 with attacks by radical Muslims, PLO and Hezbollah, and a civil war ensued that lasted until 1990. Peace has never been fully restored.

Our friend Helen, from a Maronite family, was attending university in Beirut in the 1980’s. She told us that practically every building in the city had suffered some damage from the war. She rode the bus to the university every morning, carrying with her a bag with extra clothes and supplies in case she wouldn’t be able to get home that night.

Her parents home was a peaceful haven amid the strife and turmoil of the war. Her father’s presence in the home gave her a feeling of security and peace. He told his sons that they were never to think of enlisting in the army, or of getting involved in the conflict in any other way. The war was to remain outside, thee should be no strife in their home.

When she finished university the economy of Lebanon was in ruins. There seemed to be no hope of finding work, no future at all in this war torn country. She applied to immigrate to Canada and was accepted. She obtained a passport, but could not seem to obtain the document needed to leave the country. By this time the Beirut Airport was controlled by a Muslim militia. She left for the airport with her documents and ticket, praying that somehow she would be able to get on the plane.

As soon as she walked though the doors of the airport a man approached her and asked for her documents. She handed them over, then panicked as she realized how foolish that was. The man asked her to come with him and she followed in an almost dream-like state. He led her through every step of the way, ticket counter, baggage check, security and so on, always going directly to the head of the line and getting her passed through with hardly a glance at the papers. Finally she was to the boarding ramp of her airplane; he handed her papers back to her, wished her well and was gone.

It wasn’t until her plane was airborne and she was safely on her way to Montreal that it sunk in how wondrously her prayer had been answered. She has no idea who the man was, or why he helped her. Her family has no idea either.

The Father himself loves you

My father was a man with high principles and good intentions, but a short fuse. And when he blew up, he would stay angry for days while my mother and I tip-toed around to avoid further aggravating him. He was never physically violent, but the verbal abuse was just as damaging.

It happened again one day after I was grown up and married. My father blew up and poured out his invective in loud, angry tones. After it was over I found a quiet place, knelt down and asked “Why can’t I have a better father?” The answer was immediate: “But you do. You have a perfect Father.”

My heavenly Father has often reminded me of the reality of His love in the following years. There are many verses in the Bible to tell me of the Father’s love, but I am not thinking here of a theoretical or doctrinal knowledge of His love. There have been times when He spoke to me, not in an audible voice, yet it was clear and unmistakable.

One time was during a series of revival meetings. The preaching was powerful and soul-searching; brothers and sisters around me were confessing their faults and their struggles. I wanted to be honest and open-hearted and allow the Lord to “search me, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me.” The answer I received was: “the most important thing you need to know right now is that I love you just the way you are.”

I have seen fellow believers struggle to find something to repent of so that they can believe that God is satisfied with them. That is bondage. I have observed others who try to prove to their unbelieving friends that they can do all the things they do and still be a Christian. This is also bondage. And then there are those who believe that God loves them because they are better people than the ungodly people around them. This is deception.

I am no better than anyone else — there is still something within me that sides with the tempter. And sometimes I slip, because of carelessness, impatience or other weaknesses common to man. But I also have a heavenly Father who warns me when I am about to slip and helps me get back up when I do slip.

None of us have had perfect fathers; I certainly have not been a perfect father. Some fathers are better than others, and some children have no father at all. Whatever the situation, we can find comfort and healing in knowing the heavenly Father who loves us, knows our sorrows and our needs and will be with us all the way through our life.

John 16:27:  For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

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