Leaving church yesterday, I couldn’t help but think: “Really? Did that just happen?” That was the perfect sermon for what I was feeling and I felt like the pastor was speaking directly to me.
One of the first things my pastor said in his sermon yesterday was, “We all have a ‘father wound,’ even if you had a good dad.” I know I have “father wound.” My dad wounded me deeply by his absence. Nearly everyone who knows me knows my story about not knowing my dad. Just before my 24th birthday I met the man. It was the first time I realized just how much his absence in my life had hurt me and how angry I was with him for not being there. But that’s not what this post is about.
What I guess I never really realized or thought about was that other people have that wound as well, whether their dad was there or not. I’m not alone in this one. We all have one thing in common: our earthly dads were not perfect and have failed us. But we also have a Heavenly Father who wants to show us that He is the perfect Father that we’ve always longed for. He is the only Father who will never fail us.
God loves us because of His love alone and not because we are lovable. Think about that one for a minute and just let that sink in. Even though I know it, when I heard that yesterday I was kind of taken aback; we need to remind ourselves of that from time to time because we ALL often fall into thinking we can earn His love.
Ephesians 1:3, 6 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
We don’t bless God to win His favor, God blessed us and we bless Him in return. He loves us and praises us as His children, not because of anything we have done.
I think the idea of being loved and blessed by God, without being able to do anything to earn it, is a hard concept for us to grasp. We, so often, get it backwards, thinking that if we praise Him enough and live lives that are holy enough, if we live lives that are pleasing to Him, only then will He bless us and give us grace (I thought this way for a LONG time and had all but given up on being a “good enough” person because I knew I could never measure up).
He doesn’t love us because we are lovable; He loves us because we are His.
1 John 3:1 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
It seems that I have come across this subject in a few places in the past week. It is something I think I need to really meditate on. I can’t earn God’s grace. A sweet friend told me last week of something that she had heard stated by Tim Keller (and that has been said by many others); that we can’t be joyfully obedient to God before we have experienced grace. Experiencing God’s grace gives us the desire to change and to follow Him in obedience.
We only live holy lives because of His grace. This might sound cold and close minded, but it doesn’t matter how good of a person you are, whether you are a murderer or a loving, kind person who helps other people, if you haven’t accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior and haven’t placed your faith in Him, you are not going to have eternal life in Heaven with Him.
Ephesians 1:4 – even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
If our identity is in Christ, we are holy and blameless before God, ONLY because of Christ, not because of anything we have done on our own. He didn’t choose us because we were righteous, He chose us to make us righteous.
Before we experience grace and His transforming power in our lives, all the law can do for us is point out what sinners we are. In my experience, that’s one reason why I never thought I could ever be a Christian, because I could never as good as “those people”. I now know that “those people” are just a bad as me, the only difference is that they had experienced God’s grace in their lives. Once I experienced His grace, the Holy Spirit began transforming my life. My desires that were once hurtful and angry turned into desires to help others and do what was right. I started wanting to share the grace and love that He had given me.
I think that many of us fall into the line of thinking that once we are saved, everything will be perfect. But we are wrong there. There are MANY, MANY verses that talk about suffering and that you will suffer and experience pain in this life; what’s important is how you deal with that pain. Salvation is punctiliar. It happens once by making the choice to trust in Him. However, it doesn’t end there. Just because you accepted His grace for your salvation doesn’t mean that you have to then start earning it.
We have to trust in His grace for our Salvation but we also have to trust in His grace to continue to get us through the rest of our lives. We need to trust what He says about us, that we are His children and He loves us in spite of ourselves. But at the same time, we can’t ignore that the sin is there. We need to let Him guide us through it.
You cannot heal from sin by focusing on the sin, but by acknowledging that God still loves you through it. Don’t work on your sin to get to God, but let God in and work on your sin with Him.
Whatever my problems are in life, whether they are personal, physical, spiritual, marital, emotional, etc. I need to always come back to the same point: the Gospel. I need to come back to His love for me and focus on that. From there I can learn things I didn’t know or understand that can help me; but without the basic understanding of how much He loves me, I will never be able to produce and lasting transformation.
Ephesians 1:5 – …In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
We have all chosen rebellion, but He still chooses to adopt us as His children. He knows our past, present and future. He is in control of it. My life is about what God has done in me, it’s not really about me.
John 6:44 – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
It’s almost eerie to think that we don’t even have control of our own salvation. We only come to salvation in Jesus Christ to begin with if God draws us in that direction. Apparently, the word used for “draws” in this verse is the same word used to describe dragging someone off to prison. That made me literally laugh out loud a bit because I feel like that is how I came to trust in Christ. I really didn’t want to and I fought, kicking and screaming, the whole way. I questioned everything and tried to find all the reasons NOT to have faith, but God had predestined me for adoption as His child and He wasn’t letting go. And I thank Him that He didn’t.
Sometimes, I am still shocked by the knowledge that I am His child and He loves and delights in me. As someone who, until recently, never knew the love of a father, that is the main thing that He used to draw me to Him.