[Part 3, Chapter 18]
I can’t remember where I first heard it, but it has been teasingly stated that the moment you have a child, you become the subject in their future prayer counselling.
Jokes aside, there is an element of truth in that statement.
All parents are human. Even the best parents are inconsistent. That means you grew up in an imperfect environment.
For some of you, it was deeply wounding. You’d get home and not know if you were going to get hugged or slugged.
As a result, many people grow up viewing themselves as a chronic wrongdoer. You turned off the tap too hard and ruined the washer. You didn’t turn the tap off hard enough and it dripped. You could never modify your behaviour enough to please the other person.
This not only affects how we view God, but how we see ourselves in relation to him.
If you are around my age, and grew up in a strong church going family, the chances are high you got smacked in church. Regularly. Thankfully, I wasn’t a foot swinger. However, I know someone who couldn’t sit still in ‘church’, and so would swing their legs while they were sitting on the hard pews. Smack. Week after week.
That certainly affects how we view God. Our perception of him is often shaped by our parents. If they punished reactively, then we think God castigates harshly. If they seemed unyielding and inflexible to us, then God comes across as rigid and strict.
Jesus comes as the Truth, and releases within us the Spirit of Truth, in order to lead us into the all-encompassing truth about God as Father—a Father, who, by the way, has the most beautifully tender, nurturing heart (Isaiah 49:13-16; 66:12-13; Psalm 131:2).
The truth revealed to us shows a Father God who is consistent, faithful, just and fair, compassionate, and who only wants our best. You don’t need to second guess how you’ll be treated, whether he’s having a good day or a bad one, if the slugger or the hugger is going to come home. With him, your Abba Father, you always know what you’re going to get: favour!
The bible reminds us that when we were children, our parents dealt with us as seemed best to them, but our heavenly Father relates to us in the way that is best (Hebrews 12:10).
Favour does not remove what happened to us in our upbringing. However, favour is the starting point for addressing both what did happen, and what we wished had happened.
Your heavenly Father has a name for you. He calls you his beloved. It’s what he called Jesus when he was baptised. It’s like his nickname for him.
The bible calls us his beloved numerous times (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 4:15; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 2:12; 1 John 4:7).
Beloved, be loved.
Beloved, receive my love.
Beloved, live in my love and the freedom it brings.