A Wide Open Space
Over the last few weeks, I've been reflecting on my personal journey in Father's love. It was in May 2002 that I first experienced God being a Father to me. Prior to that I knew God was 'a' father, maybe even 'the' Father and in some small way, I knew that he was my Father. As I look back and reflect, I see that a seismic change took place and something in me began to be transformed. God became a Father to me.
It's those two little words which bring incredible change. When all we know is that God is 'a' father or 'the' father we describe an intellectual relationship. When we know he is a Father to us we describe a heart relationship. There is a huge difference between the two. The change is profound because the eyes of our heart have been opened and, rather than seeing what he does, we see who he is.
To live loved, knowing that God is a Father to me has really changed everything. In fact, as I look back, I would describe it as being brought into a wide-open space. This is described perfectly for us in the book of Job.
"He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food." (Job 36:16 NIV)
The context of this verse is important. Job's friends are telling him what God is trying to do and yet they believe that Job is resisting and is stuck in judgement and criticism. At the end of Job we read how wrong his friends were in their assessment of his response. This verse, however, does show us the heart of the Father. It is the very thing which I believe has happened to me. In my heart, I feel that I have been drawn out of the jaws of distress and brought into a wide-open space.
The word 'distress' also means anguish, torment, sufferring, exhaustion or peril. Not a very happy place to be! You may be in a place of mourning, sorrow, loss or grief and the Father longs to draw you from that place of restriction or limitation. That may not mean your circumstances change but it does mean the distress can fade and, as we'll see, peace and comfort can prevail.
The Father woos us (or draws us) from this place of restriction. That's a romantic word; there is no judgement or accusation but we are drawn with the cords of loving kindness. There is a tenderness in the way he leads us, much the same as we read in Isaiah 40.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. (Isaiah 40:11 NIV)
He knows our vulnerability and he lovingly draws us away from our distress to the place that our heart longs for. We read it is a wide-open space, it is free from restriction, it is a place of comfort and a place of provision. This is similar in many respects to Psalm 23 where a table of good things is laid out for us right in front of our enemies. To sit down at a table when you're surrounded by your enemies must mean you are very well protected. That's what our Father does, his table is right out in the open, right there in the presence of our enemies yet we can sit in comfort and be satisfied. Not only is he our provider but our protector as well.
I know my heart has begun to explore this wide-open space. For me, I do not want to fall back into, or be sucked back into the jaws of distress. I want to live freely and lightly. I am discovering that a free heart is a comforted heart. As we make our home in love we are comforted and this strengthens our heart so we may live a different way.
I often think about the phrase "a revelation of Father's love", I probably even use it when I'm speaking. It's a wonderful thing to have a revelation but to me it also speaks of distance. There is a gap between us and the thing which we have seen. I like to use the word "impartation" as it speaks of something which was separate from us and has now become part of us (Romans 5:5). As I have responded to being loved, so love has been drawn into my heart. I am becoming one with love.
I believe this is what sonship really is. Us becoming one with love, in order that we know (in our heart) that God really is a Father to us.
I don't want to go back. I want to remain in this wide, open space. I want a deeper revelation and impartation of Father's love in my heart. What about you?
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Walking As Jesus Walked
Jesus promises that, when we come to him and allow him to lead us to the Father, we will begin to live freely and lightly.