“Whatever else in the Bible catches your eye, do not let it distract you from the Christ.”
~ J.I. Packer
Love this new song by Jason Gray
I am sure many of you have a similar desire as mine: a desire to be close to Him, to know Him well, to know Him intensely and deeply. I would like to know and be as comfortable with Him as a young child is with her parents – as comfortable as if He were physically here. I want the entire weight of His immense character to move my life and actions at His will.
This yearning of our hearts is reverberated over and over in Scripture on a cord struck first from the heart of God.
Christ expressed, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
And the Holy Spirit via Paul: “that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus”
Christ has fully apprehended His own.
He captivates and binds us to Himself,
…..yet this makes us utterly free.
He woos us to Himself,
unshackling us from the chains of the spirit of man……
then He seals us with His own Spirit to make us one with Him.
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry,
Do we understand the intimacy of those words? I can only begin to understand them as I think of the relationship between Christ, the Father, and the Spirit while He walked this earth……and even more so, long before, in eternity past. His connection to His Father via the Spirit was constant and created perfect union of thought and action. Now, through Him, we have entered into that same relationship:
“I [Christ] in them and you [Father] in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” No wonder He desires us to abide steadily and deeply in Him.
Several years ago in my quest to allow my heavenly Father into every corner of my life I wondered…..could the fact that I come from a broken home skew my ability to see Him rightly as my Abba?
I knew my concept was distorted.
So I made a list. As I made it, it was as though I were letting my heart cry out for something I never had. My pen moved……
I would love a father, my father:
1. To see me as beautiful…..always….because He sees what others, and even myself, cannot see.
2. To take interest in the little things I do (patience) and to find joy in those things, as much as the big things.
3.To always be there – to never leave me.
4. To tell me gently with love when I am going down a dangerous path. That he would be firm, but not harsh.
5. To keep his promises, to want to be near, to want to listen, to help me actually do what is important in life.
I paused for a while after writing down these things……..and could not help but well up inside (and out) with thankfulness no words could express. I believe it is times like these where, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
Funny, I already knew that He was that perfect father, but somehow, writing the list, thinking on Him, and praying within the process, brought Him more fully IN to that hidden area of my heart.
His “perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
He will never fail us – no matter what is going on in our minds or actions – He is constantly loving us with the protection and tenderness of our Abba.
I think what struck me then, as it does still, was that my Father in heaven was not only all those things, but that He was far more than all those things. Inconceivably more. As a writer I have appreciated put it,
“If we take all the goodness, wisdom, and compassion of all the best mothers and fathers who have ever lived, they would only be a faint shadow of the love and mercy in the heart of our redeeming God.”
Those are the words are Brennan Manning’s.
(About a week ago, he passed from the murky vision of faith unto that glorious reality of “face to face”. Wow. What he must be seeing now! He was a man of many struggles, yet, he was beautifully transparent with those things. Transparent to people, transparent with His Father.)
Here as an excerpt I love from his book, “The Furious Longing of God”:
“Abba means in literal English: daddy, papa, my own dear father.
“American child psychologists tell us that children learn to speak between the ages of 14 and 18 months. Regardless of the sex of the child, the first word normally spoken at that age level is “Da Da Daddy.” A little Jewish child, speaking Aramaic in first century Palestine at the time of the historic Jesus, at the same age would say “Ab Ab Abba.” I really think we caught the revolutionary revelation of Jesus’ teaching on God the Father because He’s daring us to address the infinite, transcendent, almighty God in the same colloquial form of address our own children used that morning, which is Abba, literally meaning “Daddy.”
“Jesus is saying that we may address the infinite, transcendent, almighty God with the intimacy, familiarity, and unshaken trust that a sixteen-month-old baby has sitting on his father’s lap – da,da,daddy.
“Is your own personal prayer life characterized by the simplicity, childlike candour, boundless trust, and easy familiarity of a little one crawling up in Daddy’s lap? An assured knowing that the daddy doesn’t care if the child falls asleep, starts playing with toys, or even starts chatting with little friends, because the daddy knows the child has essentially chosen to be with him for that moment? Is that the spirit of your interior prayer life?”
I hope and pray that our interior life will be increasingly decorated with such freedom, joy, and life. For when the Son sets us free, when He flings the prison doors open, when He bids us to enter into His rest, we cannot help but sing! “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. (Selah)”
(John 17; Phil. 3:12; Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; 8:26; John 17:22,23; 1 John 4:18; Galatians 4:4-7; John 8:36; Psalms 84)
The law imprisons our minds because we can never escape it’s demands.
When we realize this, we see that the law is pointing our eyes to Christ who IS the law personified.
By faith in Him, we become free to be His very own son, resting our minds on all He has done and will do.
25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45
“As we contemplate the state of things in the world today, we are very deeply impressed and oppressed with the prevailing malady of spiritual blindness. It is the root malady of the time. We should not be far wrong if we said that most, if not all, of the troubles from which the world is suffering, are traceable to that root, namely, blindness. The masses are blind; there is no doubt about that. In a day which is supposed to be a day of unequaled enlightenment, the masses are blind…. The leaders are blind, blind leaders of the blind. But in a very large measure, the same is true of the Lord’s people. Speaking quite generally, Christians are today very blind.
Every bit of new seeing is a work from heaven. It is not something done fully once for all. It is possible for us to go on seeing and seeing, and yet more fully seeing, but with every fresh fragment of truth, this work, which is not in our power to do, has to be done. Spiritual Life is not only a miracle in its inception; it is a continuous miracle in this matter right on to the last…. We do not seek for new revelation, and we do not say or suggest or hint that you may have anything extra to the Word of God, but we do claim that there is a vast amount in the Word of God that we have never seen, which we may see. Surely everybody agrees with that: and it is just that – to see, and the more you see, really see, the more overwhelmed you feel about the whole thing, because you know that you have come to the borders of the land of far distances, lying far beyond a short lifetime’s power of experience. The Lord make us all to be of those wh o have eyes opened.”
Abba, Father, give us ears to hear every nuance of your voice. May we then feel every nudge to “go”and every press of grieving or conviction you give…..may we be channels of all that you are….alone.
“Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” ~ Tozer