Once I read the Sermon on the Mount and tried to imagine I was one of the people gathered on the hillside. In my imagination I could hear his voice. I felt a breeze soothe the perspiration on my forehead, and I began to hear his words with new ears.
Jesus kept repeating two simple words over and over. When he talked about the light of the world, he used these words. When he talked about loving our enemies, he used these words. And as he moved on to generosity, prayer, and fasting, there again were these same words.
The words I heard over and over were simply, “Your Father.” I began to sense that in addition to the substance of the message Jesus preached that day, he was also trying to plant something deep in my spirit: namely, the assurance that God Himself is my Father.
|Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal|
What happened to me as I read the passage and put myself among the listeners was something beyond an idea, beyond a theological construct. I heard his voice remind me again and again, “You have a Father, a Father in Heaven. What’s more, your Father is within your reach. He’s able to find the most hidden place. He is actively involved in your day, your actions, even your thoughts, and this is a good thing, because he’s your Father.”
I went back to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, this time with a pen in hand and made a list of affirmations about my Father and me. Alone in my office, I read each statement out loud. I heard the sound of my own voice speak the truth about God, who is also my Father. Of these things I could be sure:
- My Father encourages me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me.
- My Father wants to perfect me.
- My Father does not reward “outward performance.”
- My Father sees what I do in secret and will reward me.
- My Father will meet me behind closed doors.
- My Father knows what I need before I ask Him.
- My Father forgives me when I forgive others.
- My Father feeds the birds; He will feed me.
- My Father knows what I need.
- My Father gives me good gifts from heaven when I ask Him.
That day in my office was too good to keep to myself, so this week I wonder if you could meditate on the simple truth: you have a Father.