And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Exodus 34: 6-7 NIV)
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103: 8-12 NIV)
Moses is facing the huge challenge of leading the people of Israel away from Egypt and towards the Promised Land. Not an easy task by any standard! It certainly wasn't helped by the people's unwillingness or their rebellion. In his desperation, Moses needed an encounter with the Lord. He needed to know who, and what, was going to enable him to do this impossible job.
It would be easy to say the people needed strong and decisive leadership or that they needed a rule book to help them through. Maybe they needed a master or an army office to give them orders.
In Moses' encounter with the Lord he receives a revelation of the nature and personality of God the Father. Firstly he is compassionate, then gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. God reveals himself to his people in the only way he could: as a loving Father. A theme later repeated by the Psalmist.
And this is how he continues to reveal himself to us. His compassion is stirred within him and so anger and judgement are put to one side as we are drawn into the arms of a compassionate Father. He is loving us with immeasurable love that is totally unrelated to anything we have done or tried to be.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8 NIV)
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14 NIV)
A few years ago I was on a small island off the coast of New Zealand. Every night I watched a glorious sunset which was changing and evolving moment by moment as the colours created this amazing, unfolding vista. Once the sun had finally set I could sit on the beach or the jetty and look up into the sky. With no light pollution I could see the countless stars flickering away. It was beautiful and totally stunning, the work of a master artist.
We have a beautiful world to live in. If only we would take time to look, we would see that we are surrounded by beauty.
And yet the Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We've been created by the same person who created this beautiful planet, the universe we can see and the rest which is still to be revealed.
Sometimes we have doubts; we look at ourself and see our failings or our insecurity and we start to doubt the truth of who we are. We are the Father's handiwork and he takes great delight in us. He made us for himself, he created us so he could enjoy us and he made us in the image of his Son, Jesus.
He celebrates you! Can you celebrate you?
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV)
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16 NIV)
What a tremendous security these verses bring. Before we were a dream of our parents, our Heavenly Father knew us. He knew all about us: where we would be born, who our family would be, what we would grow up to do and what we would be like.
I don't believe this was purely a factual knowing. It was a creative knowing. It wasn't just that God could read a book about you, he actually wrote the book. He knows you because he created you.
Of course, the picture God has of you is the perfect, unpolluted, unblemished one. The one that he determined before the broken world changed everything. Our Father is bigger than the mess in the world and whilst he knows the impact it has on you, it doesn't diminish his love for you.
Our Father sees beyond the brokenness in our lives, in our families and in our world system. He sees us as we are, yet he continues to draw us into his love and into the security of knowing that he is being a Father to us. Not only does he know all about us but he knows the plans he has for our lives. He will always be with us as walk the pathway of life.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV)
The Father's love for us is immeasurable. It goes beyond anything we can imagine or comprehend. In fact, it is not meant to be understood as that would limit it to the extent of intellectual ability. Yet, it is something we can experience and go on experiencing. It is something we can live in.
Paul's prayer is that we would be rooted and established in this love. That our lives would be planted in the Father's love so that we can begin to experience the transforming power of that love in our heart. The Passion Translation describes it as "the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life".
The Father's love is wide enough to encompass every situation we may go through, it is long enough to stretch back through our history and it goes before us into our future. It is high enough to celebrate our joys and achievements and deep enough to carry us through our pain, grief and mourning. Our lives contain a lot of uncertainty and this can cause us to worry or live in fear. When we are planted in love we know a security greater than our own, we are able to trust the One who knows everything of our past AND our future.
His love will never leave us, nor forsake us. It is the only thing able to carry us through every circumstance we will face.
"Now to him who is able...." may our Father fill you with his love today and everyday.
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.