Last week I wrote about us finding our true home in the Father's embrace. For some, a homecoming can happen in an instant, whereas for others it's more of a journey as we set our heart in the direction of home. Over time, we are drawn deeper into the Father's heart and we start to feel content, we find our place of rest.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV)
After Cain had killed his brother, the Lord appeared to him and told him the consequence of his actions: he would be a restless wanderer on the face of the earth (Genesis 4:12). I see that same heart in all of us. A restless heart where we are constantly trying to discover what more we need to do in order to feel loved, valued or accepted. It's a tiring way of living and one that will not satisfy. Jesus said "come to me and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28), he says that in the context of us knowing the Father (see my blogpost: The Nature of the Kingdom).
As our heart comes home we find rest. This place of rest is you knowing God as Father and allowing him to be a Father to you. It's much more than simply knowing about God, it's the same experience of relationship that Jesus lived in. If being restless is always seeking the 'more', then being at rest is knowing there is nothing more I need to do to feel loved, valued or accepted. It has all been done and we can rest from our works. There is a Sabbath rest where we take a day to rest physically, mentally and emotionally but there is also a Sabbath rest for the heart. This is not a single day but a way of living as we live in sonship rather than striving to be a good servant.
You can be busy but at rest, because rest is the state of your heart not your diary.
I believe that there's a longing in every human heart to know we belong, that each one of us can find a place we call home. This then begs a couple of questions: 'what is home?' and 'where is it?'
Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. “I, even I, am he who comforts you." (Isaiah 51:11-12a NIV)
I enjoy travelling, I enjoy the whole experience (with perhaps the exception of endless airport queues). There is the excitement of new places, new people, new food and yes, yet another bed to become used to. However much I enjoy the travel, I am always glad to be going home, back to the familiar and of course the people I love. For me, there is a great sense of rest and peace to be back home.
Our Father wants us to come home. Home to him, our place of true belonging. We see this very clearly in the story of the lost sons in Luke 15 but we also see this through the history of the nation of Israel. However far the people wandered there was always a Father calling them home; not only calling them home but providing the way for them to come home.
We might live in a comfortable house and be content with our lifestyle. It may satisfy us in part but it will never be enough. What we seek, and what we desperately need to find is our home within the Father's embrace. It's a place of security where we can hear the Father say "you are my son or daughter and I love you", we hear him say "you are enough". That is the place of true contentment, it's when we know our heart has come home.
Because the Father's love is not dependent on what we've done or not done, we can all turn and run into his open waiting arms where we discover the truth of who we really are. Let me recommend this song to you, "I Will Run" - why not play it over and over and let the truth of the words soak into your heart. Allow the Father to bring you home.
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:31-32 NIV)
Last week I looked at the four responses of the older brother (I've always served you, I've never disobeyed you, you've never given me anything and 'but this son of yours'). Today I want to look at how the father in the story responds.
He actually treats both his sons in the same way. He goes out to meet them and invites them to come home. The younger son responds but we're not sure what happens to the older son - the end of story is left open. Maybe it's left open to make us think of our own response. Though we don't like to admit it, we're like the older son in many ways and have as much need of a homecoming as the younger son.
The father tells him two important things which we would do well to listen to: "You are always with me and everything I have is yours". I believe the Father says the same things to us. In the story, the older son couldn't receive it and my question for us is "can we?". Do you know that the Father is always with you? Everything that is his is yours too. I invite you to let these words of the Father sink into your heart; as they do, the servant-hearted responses of the older brother will begin to fade away.
(If you're interested, my complete teaching on this is here: https://vimeo.com/344836487 and I write about it in my book "Planted in Love" available as part of the special offer or on Amazon)
“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!" (Luke 15:28-30 NIV)
When we read the story of the lost sons we tend to concentrate on the younger son with his rebellion and then his homecoming. We identify with him as there is so much that is familiar to our own journey. Whenever we think of the older son we tend to point the finger at other people rather than look at ourselves. For a moment, therefore, I want us to look at our own heart and see how we respond in the same way as the older brother. He too was lost. Although he lived in his father's house he behaved like a servant - he was not home.
In these few verses he responds in four ways to the invitation to join the party and welcome his brother home.
His responses are: I've always served you, I've never disobeyed you, you've never given me anything and 'but this son of yours'. How telling they are! As we stop and think, we can see how they very often mirror our own response. We may not be so aggressive as the older brother but we often feel justified because we have always tried to do the right thing, as a servant rather than a son. Interestingly, it's the last response that is the most telling. The older brother doesn't see the return of a brother but rather the father's son - he's distancing himself and then proceeds to make assumptions and accusations. How does he know how his brother spent the inheritance? (we're not told in the story).
All too often we do the same thing. Our self-righteous servant heart leads us to make judgments and accusations which show that our heart has not found its home. Next week I shall look at how the Father responds to his eldest son, because, he too, needed to come home.
(If you're interested, my complete teaching on this is here: https://vimeo.com/344836487)
A Father to YOU is a signpost to the heart of the Perfect Father. When we became Christians we were given the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Sadly, many of us fail to take up that right and instead continue to live as slaves or orphans. But our true destiny is being sons and daughters who have a permanent place in the Father's family. This blog is an encouragement to help you know who God really is and who you really are.