The lecture topic for week five was “The Father Heart of God” and it brought a lot of new revelation and healing to my heart. We started off the week by looking at who God says He is and how He describes Himself. God has always been a Father, throughout all eternity; He is the Everlasting Father. If He has always been a Father, then that means there has always been a Son. The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit is eternal. They have always existed together as a family. We continued by looking at the Character of God. What does He tell us about His heart and who He is? God has many names and each one reveals to us a different part of His character. In the Old Testament, God is called Elohim – the Strong One; El Elyon – the One who sustains us; El Shaddai – Almighty God; El Olam – One who spans the ages; Jehovah – Redeemer/Self-Existent One; Jehovah Jireh – Provider; Jehovah Rapha – Healer; Jehovah Nissi – Banner; Jehovah Shalom – Peace/Shepherd. In the New Testament, the final revelation God gives to us about Himself is that He is Father. In Matthew 5, Jesus refers to God as both “Your Heavenly Father” and “Our Heavenly Father”. Jesus is inclusive and reaffirms that God is our Father, just as He is Jesus’ Father. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way… No one comes to the Father except through me.” This was a big revelation for me. Jesus did not say, “I am the destination”; He said, “I am the way to the destination.” In order to understand the significance of what Jesus is saying, we have to go back… way back. In Genesis, we see the triune God creating and speaking things into being. Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, let us make man in our image, in our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God created and wired Adam and Eve to be in perfect relationship with Him, and they were. They were all smiles and things couldn’t have been better. Unfortunately, that picture of perfection didn’t last long. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s commands and their disobedience came with great consequences, the greatest being separation from their Father.
I love the way The Jesus Storybook Bible says it: “You see [because of their decision to disobey], sin had to come into God’s perfect world and it would never leave. God’s children would be always running away from Him and hiding in the dark. Their hearts would break now and never work properly again. God couldn’t let His children live forever, not in such pain, not without Him. There was only one way to protect them. “You will have to leave the garden now,” God told His children, His eyes filling with tears. “This is no longer your true home. It’s not the place for you anymore.” But before they left the garden, God made clothes for His children to cover them. He gently clothed them and then He sent them away on a long, long journey – out of the garden, out of their home. Well, in another story, it would all be over and that would have been the end. But not in this story. God loved His children too much to let the story end there. Even though He knew He would suffer, God had a plan – a magnificent dream. One day He would get His children back. One day He would make the world their perfect home again. One day He would wipe away every tear from their eyes. You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love His children with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love. And though they would forget Him and run from Him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss Him always and long for Him – lost children yearning for their home. Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve, “It will not always be so. I will come to rescue you and when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you.” And He would. One day, God Himself would come.”
God was faithful in fulfilling His promise. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” This is the love of a Father.
Another revelation came to me when we discussed the fact that we bear the Father’s image and it’s only in Him that we find our identity, security and self-love. After going through a program called Celebrate Recovery a few years ago, I realized that I had been searching for my identity, security and self-worth in people and places other than God. This turned into performance and pride as well as a constant need for affirmation. God spoke to me this week and reminded me that I am only fulfilled in Him, and His love and acceptance is not based on my performance. His love can’t be earned. It’s given freely, with no strings attached. He didn’t love me the most when I did “good things” and He didn’t withhold His love from me when I was caught up in habitual sin. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God didn’t extend His love to me when I cleaned myself up and performed well for Him. No, out of love, Christ died for me while I was still a sinner, when I was at my worst, and it’s in response to this truth that my heart found healing.
Our camping trip in Margaret River was a success and so much fun! We set up our tents in the dark, hiked down to the beach on Saturday afternoon, made s’mores, gazed at the stars, and laughed a lot. It also gave us a small taste of what life would be like for us on outreach since we found out where we’ll be going. We will spend five weeks in the Kimberleys and six weeks in Uganda. I don’t know the details about our stay in each region, but I will update you when I know more. I’ll leave you with some pictures from the past couple of weeks.
Heading to the beach.
This one is for you, Dad.
The view from the top of the hill/cliff we hiked down.
You’re never too old for somersaults.
Climbing on the rocks.
My favorite thing about the beach.
Indoor beach volleyball court.
“This is fun!”
Fruits of my work duty labor at Cafe 9.
City lights from Kings Park.
Package from home = The best start to a new day.