In the 2nd week of DTS, we focused on the topic of “Father Heart of God”, and we had a missionary couple from Penang who came over to teach us on this topic.
I came before this week of lessons with an expectant heart, wanting to discover more about my sonship in God. And testifying from where I am right now, in week 3, I’m very sure that the Lord did a beautiful work in my heart through the week.
Our speakers, Les and Sandi Hokyo, often like to emphasize that “in the Christian life, there is only one thing we need to be good at. It is to be good at receiving love.”
How radical and counter-cultural.
“The moment you need to earn it, it’s no longer a gift.”
All my life, I’ve been subconsciously coming before my Father God as a servant. I need to pray more. I need to serve more. I need to love more. I have to hear his commandments and obey them. I have to be obedient in order to be worthy of His love. I need to earn his love. MY ACTS DETERMINE MY WORTH IN GOD’S EYES.
Ah, that’s so characteristic of a servant. I seek only His commands, not His words of loving kindness. I seek task, not relationship. I seek His approval of my deeds, not His approval of my sonship.
In the Prodigal Son’s story, when the younger son came back to his father’s house after squandering all his portion of the inheritance, he was planning to tell his father these:
I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.
Sin has this effect of robbing us of our sonship. Sin lies to us that we are no longer worthy, hence we need to work out our worthiness by being a servant. We would be surprised by what the Father did next:
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Instead of judgement or condemnation, Father God runs to us in our sinfulness. He embraces us and welcomes us back into His father’s love. All the younger son needs to do is to receive this love, even if he didn’t do anything to earn it or deserve it.
Well, the older son had his own struggles as a servant in his own father’s house:
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“This son of yours!” In that moment of anger, he’s no longer a brother.
“LOOK! All these years I’ve done this, done that, but you didn’t give me anything!”
“He did all these bad stuff, he doesn’t deserve your fattened calf!”
“It just doesn’t make sense, this fattened calf should be given to me!”
“I’ve wasted all my deeds and my obedience!”
If only he knew that he was the eldest son, with great inheritance and promises.
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
Even with such close proximity to the father, the eldest son was blinded from his own sonship. I’m sure we can all resonate with him. Most of the time, our struggles in our childhood with our parents shaped how we receive the father’s love. For so many different reasons, we have grown weary, guarded, and distanced from God as our loving father. We see our Heavenly Father in the same frame of mind through which we perceive our own earthly father.
Instead of a loving protector, a faithful provider, a source of strength and courage, many of us see our fathers or mothers as unfaithful, unreliable, authoritarian, abusive, hurtful, neglecting, dismissive, and indifferent. These hurts in our hearts often become a hurdle in our receiving of the Father’s love and compassion.
In the week, we had the opportunity to process our hurts, and to forgive our parents for what we experienced as a child. Every parent in imperfect and we all live in a sinful world, hence I’m thankful that we could move on courageously and not hold it against our parents.
I still remember how we ended the previous week with a movie screening, and the staff showed us the movie “The Shack”. Although it was the 2nd time Sheryl and I watched it, this time we felt that the movie gave us alot of context and imagery as we went into the Father Heart week. Watching the movie reminded me once again of my broken childhood, but this time knowing in my heart that Father God was with me through all of my growing up years. I teared uncontrollably as God fathered me and showered me with his Father’s love.
I’m thankful that I can sneak some time to write this reflection down, because I believe that in days to come I will need to come back to this to be reminded of my Father God’s faithful love over me as His son. I can confidently live my life a beloved son of God. I can be like a child, trusting in my Father’s provision and protection. I don’t need to fend for myself anymore. Like how a child wouldn’t innately worry with his Dad about house rent or bill payments, I can fully trust that He is my provider and it is His business to provide. My only business, is to receive His love, and become more like Him.
Papa, I love you. I want to be like you. You are my hero and my protector. I want to protect the others around me as well!