by Interim Pastor Doug Marshall
Thought for Meditation:
In holy things may be unholy greed.
Thou giv’st a glimpse of many a lovely thing,
Not to be stored for use in any mind,
But only for the present spiritual need.
The holiest bread, if hoarded, soon will breed
The mammon-moth, the having pride, I find.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul, Aug 7
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
I know that some of you are not enjoying the contemporary version of the Lord’s Prayer that we are using during Lent. Be thankful that we aren’t using the version called The Lord’s Prayer – AD 2000. “Our Universal Chairperson in the metaphysical realm, Your identity enjoys the highest rating on a prioritized selectivity scale. May Your sphere of influence take on reality parameters. May your mindset be implemented on this planet as in the metaphysical realm. Allow us at this point in time and on a per diem basis a sufficient and balanced dietary food intake.”
Those of you who were here last week know that when we prayed the Lord’s Prayer, I left out the line about our daily bread – “Give us today the food we need.” There is an irony in my skipping that line because food is a significant part of my life. I admit it, I like to eat, and my favorite food is good bread. Obviously, we all need food, yet for many people, and I include myself in this, food is more than just sustenance for our bodies. There is an emotional and spiritual aspect to eating.
Food is also a significant part of the biblical story and Jesus’ ministry. The word bread is found in the gospels at least sixty times and in the rest of the Bible more than 200 times. I didn’t count them up, but there are many stories throughout the Bible that deal with eating and food. Certainly that includes the Lord’s Supper. This morning I want to look at a story that comes out of the Old Testament.
Moses and the Israelites had left Egypt. They had seen an incredible display of God’s power. God sent plagues to destroy their Egyptian masters, including the Passover which killed their firstborn sons. They saw God part the Red Sea, allowing them to cross but destroying the Egyptian army when they tried to follow. They went out into the wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula. They got to an oasis called Elim. There was plenty of water, but they realized that their food would soon run out. It takes a lot of food to feed six million people.
At that point the Israelites started to complain to Moses. They really were complaining against God, but Moses was an easier target, and safer. “We were better off back in Egypt. At least we had enough food there.” God took care of the problem by providing food.
Every evening a flock of quail landed in the camp. People went out and captured enough birds to feed their family. They had fresh meat every night. That was extravagant. Every morning, when they woke up, the ground was covered with dew. As the dew evaporated there was some sort of a bread left on the ground. They called it manna, which means “What is it?” It was sweet and tasted like honey. There was more than enough for everyone.
There was only one stipulation. They could only gather enough food for one day at a time. Not everyone followed that plan. Some of them tried to store up extra, but when they went to eat it the next day it was rotten and covered with maggots. God promised them daily bread and daily meat. It was a reminder, every day, that they were completely dependent upon God for all their needs.
Jesus knew this story of the manna and the quail. As he taught his disciples to pray he picked up on this story and prayed “Give us today our daily bread.” Jesus reminded the disciples, and us, that we are dependent on God for our food and for our lives. We need God every day. Let me share with you two reflections on this prayer.
First, when we pray “Give us today the food we need” we are affirming the goodness of God’s creation and that God cares for our bodies. In our world today there is a dualistic belief. Dualism is the idea that the spiritual world is different than the physical world. God is interested in the spiritual world, but not in the physical world. The creation, including our bodies, is corrupt and evil. Salvation is being set free from the physical world so that we can be true spiritual beings.
2000 years ago the early Church struggled with this idea. One of the main rivals to the early Christian faith was a religion called Gnosticism. Gnostics believed that the physical world was created by a lower god, a second-rate god. Some even associated the God of the Old Testament with the god of creation. Above this god of creation was the true god, the all-powerful god. Salvation was deliverance from this evil, physical world. This salvation came through knowledge. The Greek word for knowledge is gnosis, therefore the term Gnosticism. (Gnosis has a silent g, just as knowledge has a silent k.) Some Gnostics even believed that this knowledge came through Jesus.
The earliest Christians rejected Gnosticism. They proclaimed that Jesus was fully God and fully human. He had a body. He lived in the physical world. Therefore the physical world is not evil. When Jesus prayed “Give us today our daily bread,” he was teaching that the physical world is good and that God cares what happens in it. A Gnostic would never pray that prayer.
“Give us today the food we need to sustain our bodies.” This prayer reminds us that the physical world is not evil. Salvation is not deliverance out of the physical world. God is the creator and cares about the creation. God cares about the physical world, including our bodies. God provides for our basic physical needs. God wants us to have enough food, good health and life in abundance. This message is a wonderful comfort whenever we are worried about our lives. It is also a challenge for us to care for our bodies. It is a call to make sure we get enough sleep, that we exercise on a regular basis and that we eat a healthy diet.
God cares what happens to you. He cares what you do to and for your body. Take comfort in the good news that God wants to provide for your basic, physical needs. Therefore we pray, give us today the food we need.
The second reflection is more challenging. I would imagine that most of us could go home and find enough food to eat today, and probably for tomorrow and for several more days, maybe even for a week or longer. By almost any standard in the world, we are rich. We have an abundance of food, an abundance of things, and the potential to buy more.
This weekend there were hundreds of teenagers up at Camp Crestfield participating in the 30 Hour Famine. They ate lunch on Friday, then skipped dinner as well as breakfast and lunch on Saturday. They fasted for about 30 hours. It is a fund-raiser for World Vision to help feed hungry people throughout the world.
I’ve done the 30 Hour Famine several times. It isn’t too hard, until you get around food. In one church we gave the kids $1.00 apiece and had them go to a grocery store to buy the food that they would fix for the dinner that would break the fast. When you are hungry it isn’t fun to wander through a grocery store. One year up at Crestfield I was with a group of kids that went to a thrift store that had used clothes and other items for people who couldn’t afford new things. We helped with various tasks around their shop. What they didn’t realize was that we were fasting for the 30 Hour Famine, so they provided freshly baked cinnamon rolls! Do you remember my comment about good bread being my favorite food? Saying no to those rolls was hard.
At the end of 30 hours without food your energy level is low. The reality is that in our world there are millions of people who experience that every day. 21,000 people die from hunger every day. Five million children die every year from malnutrition. And I could go home and probably survive for a week on the food that is in our home.
How do we make sense of a prayer for daily bread when most of us have an abundance of food and other things? To me, there is one conclusion; when we pray this prayer we are committing ourselves to help feed the hungry. We are committing to help people with the physical needs of life. Notice that the prayer doesn’t say “give me my daily bread.” It’s “give us our bread.” It is a corporate prayer that includes all the people of the world. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are being called to participate in feeding the hungry and meeting the physical needs of people in our world.
We have the Food Pantry over here that is a wonderful ministry of this church and other area churches. This is one way that we participate in feeding the hungry and meeting physical needs. A few people work over there on Tuesdays – it would be wonderful to have more people helping out. Many of you bring food that is given out to the clients. Thank you for that. Are there other ministries that we could, and should, participate in? Our mission committee is trying a variety of mission experiments. Last Thursday we went over to Aliquippa to the Uncommon Grounds Café. In a few weeks we are again helping out with Family Promise, a ministry that enables homeless families to stay together. All of these mission opportunities push us out of our comfort zone and challenge us to share God’s love in new ways.
Justin went to the Wednesday Night Bible study at his church. The pastor talked about prayer, listening to God, and obeying God. He wondered, “Does God still speak to people today?” As he walked out to his car to drive home he prayed, “God, if you speak I’ll listen and do my best to obey.” He got into his car, fastened his seat belt, and as he started the car he had a strange thought – go buy a gallon of milk. He hadn’t heard any voice and didn’t know if it was God, but the idea of buying milk kept bothering him. Finally, he thought “What the heck. I’ll use the milk.” He stopped at a grocery store and bought a gallon of milk.
Justin got back into his car to drive home, with his milk. After a few blocks he got an urge, “Turn left on Seventh Street.” He turned onto Seventh Street, drove for a few blocks and pulled over to the curb and looked around. There were several business on one side of the street, though they were all closed for the night. There were some vacant lots on the other side of the street and then a few houses. Again he sensed something. “Go give the milk to the people in the house across the street.”
Justin looked at the house. It was dark. Either there was no one home or the people were already asleep. He thought, “Lord, this is crazy. If there is someone in there they are already asleep. If I wake them up to give them the milk they’ll be mad and I’ll look stupid.” The only response he got was the urge to go and give the milk.
Finally he got out of his car, walked across the street and knocked on the door. He figured if no one answered right away he was going to leave. But as soon as he knocked someone yelled out, “Who is it? What do you want?” A man opened the door and peered out with an angry scowl on his face. He didn’t look too happy at having a stranger knock on his door at this time of the night. Justin handed over the gallon of milk. “Here, I brought this to you.”
The man grabbed the milk and rushed down the hallway. A woman came back down the hallway carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man followed carrying a baby who was crying. He said to Justin, “We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and had run out of money. We didn’t know how we were going to buy milk for our baby. I was just asking God to show me how to get some milk.” His wife shouted from the kitchen. “I asked God to send us an angel. Are you an angel?” Justin took out his wallet and gave them all the money he had. As he walked back to his car tears of joy streamed down his face. He knew that God still speaks to people today, and God answers our prayers.
“Give us this day our daily bread, or milk. Give us the food we need. Amen.”
by Interim Pastor Doug Marshall
Thought for Meditation:
If we are to understand and appreciate the significance of this divine will, then we must, of necessity, know something of the Author and owner of that will. It is not possible to divorce or separate the will of God from God Himself. His will is not something detached from and external to the Person and character of our Father in heaven.
W. Phillip Keller, “The Lord’s Prayer,” 74.
When I was in my early 20’s, my friends and I spent a lot of time talking about “discovering God’s will” for our lives. We wanted to be faithful so we tried to figure out what God wanted us to do, whether it had to do with our careers or marriage, or any number of other topics.
On Wednesday, at the Men’s Small Group, we had a discussion on what is one of the most common theological debates – do humans have free will or is God in control. Many theological issues come out of the tension between these two ideas – God’s sovereignty and free will. I don’t have a scientific poll to back this up, but it seems to me that more people lean toward free will. What I find interesting is that people who emphasize free will don’t struggle with the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
During Lent we are looking at the Lord’s Prayer. As I mentioned last week, Jesus taught this prayer to his disciples, not as a model that must be repeated exactly as he said it, which was probably in Aramaic, not in King James English. It was originally a guide for our prayers but the early church very quickly used it as a prayer that believers would say together, in whatever language they spoke. Today we are looking at the second line – “May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven.”
The first part of this line has to do with the Kingdom of God – “May your kingdom come.” God’s kingdom is a topic that is way too big for one sermon. Let me share with you four ways to understand and talk about the Kingdom of God.
First, the Kingdom of God is an eschatological idea. That is a fancy theological word that points to the end of time. Thinking of God’s kingdom with the end of time in mind means that history has direction and purpose. Life is not meaningless or a circle of events that repeats itself. Life has meaning and is moving toward a goal – toward God’s kingdom. As difficult and confusing as life may be today, at some point in time God’s kingdom will become an obvious reality.
The second way to think about the Kingdom of God is political. In the fourth century the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. He established what has come to be called Christendom. Throughout history various empires have claimed to represent God’s kingdom –the Holy Roman Empire, Byzantium, all the way up to the USA in the twentieth century. Many of us tend to be cynical about political candidates using their faith to get elected and claiming that they will take our country back to our Christian roots. However, this political emphasis is one way of living out our faith in the world and believing in God’s kingdom.
The third way to think about the Kingdom of God is to connect it with the Church. God’s reign isn’t found primarily out in the world, but in His Church. Now, we seen and experienced enough of the church at its worst to know that it is far from perfect and is not the same as God’s kingdom. However, the church as the expression of God’s kingdom, is an attempt to live out our faith with other Christians, with Jesus as the head of the church, with God as our king.
The fourth way to think about the Kingdom of God is personal. It focuses on God’s kingdom in our own lives. Everyone has a throne, someone or something that is in control of your life. When we pray “May your kingdom come” we are taking ourselves off the throne of our lives and giving that throne to God. In essence, when we pray “May your kingdom come” we are surrendering our free will. Emphasizing this fourth idea is a way of suggesting that praying “May your kingdom come” means the same thing as “May your will be done.”
In the gospel of Luke there is a passage in which Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. There are a few differences between Matthew’s version and Luke’s version. One of the main differences is that Luke does not have “Your will be done.” Scholars speculate that Luke’s version was written earlier and Matthew included the part about God’s will from the story of the Garden of Gethsemane.
Do you remember the story? After Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Last Supper they went out to Gethsemane. Jesus went off by himself to pray. “Father, I don’t want to die. If there is some other way get me out of this. Yet what really matters is not my will, but your will” (Matthew 26:39). In the gospel of John Jesus declares that he came down to earth for a reason. “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus claims that the one who will enter the Kingdom of God is “the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
The point of all this is that when we pray “May your will be done” we are giving up control of our lives. We are giving up our own will and committing our lives to follow God’s will. We are seeking to live in conformity with God’s will. We are promising obedience.
Depending on which translation you use, the word obey or obedience is in the Bible about 250 times. What does it mean to obey? The English word obedience comes from the Latin word audire, which means “to listen.” The Greek word for obedience is upakuo, which also means “to listen.” To obey is to listen to God and to respond to that message.
A missionary was trying to translate the Bible into the language of the tribe where he worked. He couldn’t find a word in their language for obedience. It was simply not part of their culture. People did whatever they wanted to do. One day he was out in the village talking with the people, trying to learn more of their language and their culture. As he got ready to go home he whistled for his dog, who had gone with him. The dog came running up to him at full speed. An old villager saw that and said “Your dog is all ear.” At that point the missionary knew that he had his word for obedience – “all ear.”
When we pray “May your will be done” we are committing ourselves to obey God’s will for our lives. The question then becomes “How do we know what God’s will is?” Let me make a couple of comments about that.
First, I don’t believe that God’s will for our lives means that God has a blueprint for every detail. I know that some Christians hold that view. God has a plan for your life that includes who you should marry, what job you should take, what type of car you should drive and what house you should live in and what you should eat for dinner tonight. If that makes sense for you and you can work it out, that’s okay. It just isn’t how I look at it.
There are some aspects of our lives that God’s will is very specific and very clear. God wants you to believe in Jesus and to worship him. God wants you honor your parents, to love your wife or your husband and your children. God’s will does not include raping, pillaging, stealing or adultery. In some areas God has a specific will for you, but in many aspects of life God gives us freedom to choose.
The second comment has to do with how we learn what God’s will is. We could spend several weeks in Sunday school talking about this, so I’m not going to say everything there is to say. Let me put it this way. Since God’s will has to do with obedience and obedience has to do with listening, how do we hear God speak?
The best way to hear God speak to us is through God’s word. This is the primary way God speaks to us. If the Bible is clear on what God wants, or doesn’t want, then I think we can assume that is God’s will.
We can also hear God speak through our experiences, through our brothers and sisters in the church, through using our reason and intelligence, through prayer, through the gifts that we have. All of that is true, but I want to give you a different image. The best way to discern God’s will is to get to know God more and more, and to fall in love with God.
Imagine that Chad and I want to take our wives out on a date. The four of us, Chad and Holly, Tanya and I, go to a nice restaurant. We sit down and look at the menu. The waiter comes to take our order, but rather than asking Holly what she wants, the waiter asks Chad what Holly wants and asks me what Tanya wants. I hope that both of us are smart enough not to answer for our wives, but for this illustration let’s stick with our ordering for them.
Tanya and I have been married 31 years. I know her fairly well – what types of food she likes and doesn’t. I know her well enough that I could probably guess, fairly accurately, what she would like. Chad hopefully would have a good chance of guessing what Holly wants. Let’s switch that around. What are the chances that I would be able to guess what Holly wants and Chad guess what Tanya wants? I’m convinced that I would have a much better chance of getting it right for Tanya than Chad would, and he would guess better for Holly than I would.
Because we know our wives we have decent chance that we might get it right. In the same way, the better relationship we have with God, the more we know God, the more likely we are to know God’s will for our lives. If you want to know God’s will for your life spend time getting to know God – read God’s word, pray and listen to God, spend time with God’s people. [15:00]
You can spend a lifetime working on your relationship with God and never fully know God. So start today getting to know God better. However, when you get to a specific question about God’s will for your life, should you buy a new home or take a new job, here is what I would suggest. Start by praying the Lord’s Prayer – “May your will be done.” Tell God that you want to be obedient. Then spend time reading God’s word. Spend time in prayer. Spend time talking with a few close friends who will help you think clearly. If you get a clear answer, follow it. If you don’t, follow your heart.
If God wants us to make a particular decision or go in a certain direction we can trust that God will make it clear. It just might be that God is more concerned about who we are, than where we are going or what we are doing. As we wrestle with God’s will, trying to figure out what God wants, God may be up in heaven thinking “It doesn’t really matter which choice you make. Either way is fine. What I really want for in your life is for you to know how much I love you.”
by Interim Pastor Doug Marshall
Thought for Meditation:
Only God is holy, just as only people are human. God's holiness is his Godness. To speak of anything else as holy is to say that it has something of God's mark upon it. Times, places, things, and people can all be holy, and when they are, they are usually not hard to recognize.
Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking, p39
The Holy & Intimate God
As a child, I remember being confused by the Lord’s Prayer. I knew that God was in heaven, so I never understood why we prayed “Our Father, who aren’t in heaven.” It ain’t even good English. I was probably ten or eleven years old before I learned that the word is “art” which is an old-fashioned way of saying “is in heaven.”
One child thought that God’s name was Harold. “Our Father, who art in heaven, Harold be thy name.” Another one prayed, “Our Father, who art in heaven, how do you know my name?”
During Lent I want us to spend some time thinking about the Lord’s Prayer. Most scholars think that Jesus taught this prayer as a guide for our prayers, not as a model that we should copy and never be changed. I hope no one is surprised that the original form of the Lord’s Prayer is not in the King James English that we use today. It probably was in Aramaic.
I have made a deal with the children of this church. If they memorize the Lord’s Prayer I will give to them a coupon for a free Frosty at Wendy’s. They can say either the Lord’s Prayer as we typically know it, or they can memorize the modern version which is printed in our bulletin. We are going to use this modern version during Lent.
Each week we will look at a different phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. This week we are focusing on the first phrase, “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name.” Let’s look at some of these words.
The first word in English is a simple pronoun, “Our.” God is our Father. This is a reminder that we are connected to each other. We are part of the body of Christ. We live in a culture that is individualistic to an extreme. The world tells us that we are unique individuals, that we stand by ourselves. Prayer is a private activity and what you do with your life is your own business. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else you can get drunk whenever you want, have sex with anyone you want or spend your money however you want. Those are private matters that don’t impact anyone else. The same is true with prayer – it’s private.
Every time we say the Lord’s Prayer we are reminded that God is “Our Father,” not “My Father.” We belong to the people of God and everything we do impacts our community. Think of a big platter of finger jello. If you touch one piece of the jello the whole platter will begin to shake. What happens to one person impacts everyone else.
Here is another way of saying this. Prayer is a personal act, but not a private act. Our prayers unite us with all other Christians. Our lives and our prayers are always impacted by who other people are, by what they do and how they pray. And their lives are impacted by what we do and how we pray. Our prayers unite us with other Christians and join with all their prayers and rise up as an offering to our God.
Our Father “in heaven.” The word “heaven” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word “heave-on.” It means to be lifted up. You heave something on top of other things. However, the word heaven is not about a location, a place up there in the sky. We tend to think of heaven as up, above the stars. The problem with that is that it means that God is far away from us.
Instead of heaven as a location, the word heaven is a condition that is contrasted with life as we experience it on earth. Life on earth is filled with problems and struggles. Life in heaven is better than life on earth. It is perfect. It is above what we experience here on heart. Saying that God is in heaven is not telling us where God is. Instead, it is a statement of praise. “God you are perfect. You are above and beyond who we are as human beings. You are in heaven.”
“Holy is your name.” If you only had one word to describe God, the word that the Bible would suggest is “holy.” Holy means to be set apart, to be different. It carries with it a sense of something sacred, a sense of mystery. There is a sense of power and danger.
Eugene Peterson tells a story of a man from North Carolina who traveled to Montana to see and experience the beauty and wonder of the mountains. While he was out in the mountains he was attacked by a grizzly bear. He survived, but swore that he would never go back to the mountains. Peterson commented, “He forgot that wonder and beauty can also be dangerous.”
The holiness of God involves God’s wonder and beauty and majesty. It also includes God is dangerous. God is holy.
In the Middle Eastern culture your name gives more than just your identity. It tells something of your character. The name of the God of Israel is Yahweh, a name so holy and so sacred that even today Jews will not speak the name. You remember when God called Moses? Moses saw a bush that was on fire but was not burning up so he went to investigate. God spoke to him out of the bush. God told Moses to take off his shoes because the ground was holy. This was a sacred place because God was there.
Then God gave Moses the job of leading his people out of Egypt. Moses didn’t want the job. He came up with all sorts of reasons why he couldn’t do it. “You want me to go down to Egypt and tell your people that God wants me to lead you to the promised land. They are going to ask me, ‘Who is this God you’re talking about? What is his name?’ What am I supposed to tell them?” Then God tells Moses his name, Yahweh. “I am who I am. I will be who I will be.” In other words, God is not going to be controlled. God is known by what God does. God delivers his people from Egypt and leads them through the wilderness and into the promised land. God sends Jesus Christ, his only son, into the world, to show us how to live, to die for us, and to be raised to new life so that we might live with God. That is who God is and what God does. God’s name is holy because God is holy.
Up to this point, nothing in Jesus’ prayer is significantly different from typical prayers that other Jews would have prayed in Jesus’ time. However, when Jesus called God “Father” that was beyond the comprehension for the Jews. As I said, they wouldn’t even mention God’s name. God’s name was so holy, so awesome, that they wouldn’t dream of calling God, “Father.” In the time when Jesus lived, both Jews and Gentiles had an image of God as distant and threatening. There was no intimacy with God. You feared God. You had to follow God’s laws and offer just the right sacrifices so that God didn’t get mad at you and destroy you.
Jesus came along and affirmed that God was the creator of the universe. God was the majestic, eternal and infinite Lord, the Almighty God. Yet God was also a father who longs for an intimate relationship with us. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane he even called God “Abba” (Mark 14:36). In my Bible there is a footnote next to the word Abba. It says that Abba is the Aramaic word for Father. That isn’t accurate. Abba is Aramaic for Daddy. God, who is holy, who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present, God, who is the sovereign Lord of the universe, is a God who wants to be your Daddy. As Psalm 103 claims, God is like a father who wants to have compassion on his children.
The year was 1970. One of the most popular movies of the year was “Love Story.” Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw were college students who fell in love with each other. They were the typical opposites attract. Ali was from a poor, yet loving family. Her dad was warm and funny and they had a great relationship. She called him Phil. Ryan couldn’t imagine calling his dad by his first name. Ali asked him, “What do you call your dad?” Ryan said, “I don’t call him anything at all. We don’t talk very much.” When they did talk he usually called him “Sir.” Ryan’s family was very wealthy. They had everything money could buy. But there was no warmth or laughter, and no love in the family.
Eddie’s dad was even worse. When I met Eddie his dad was in jail for drunk driving. Eddie told stories about going to bars with his dad. His mom was working and Dad was supposed to be baby-sitting, but he wanted to get drunk and took Eddie with him to the bar. Eddie talked about watching his dad, in a drunken stupor, beating his mother’s face to a pulp because she wouldn’t give him money to buy more booze. Eddie used to burn the hair off his arms with a cigarette lighter, a trick he learned from his dad, though his dad sometimes burned more than just the hair on Eddie’s arms. There were stories of Eddie being beaten by his dad. The crazy thing is, in spite of how terrible his dad was, Eddie’s biggest dream was that his dad would get out of jail and he could go live with him again. The longing for a relationship with our father never dies.
Some of you may have had a dad who was similar to Phil, Ali McGraw’s dad – loving and fun. Praying the Lord’s Prayer and calling God “Father,” or even “Abba” may not be hard for you. Some of you probably had a dad like Ryan O’Neal’s. They provided for your physical needs but weren’t emotionally involved with you. You never knew them as loving and warm. It may be difficult to comprehend God as a Father who loves you and wants an intimate relationship with you. Some of you may have had dads who were absent, because of divorce, or death, or work. Some of you may even have had dads who were abusive and alcoholic.
The truth is that no one had a perfect father. I don’t know where your dad is on the spectrum from good to horrible, but I know that because they were human, they were sinful and probably hurt you. For some people that pain is so great that praying the Lord’s Prayer is impossible.
I wish I had a magic want that I could wave over every one and heal your painful memories of your dad. I wish I could mend all those broken relationships and agonizing memories. But I can’t.
The one thing I can do is tell you about our heavenly Father, a perfect Father, a holy Father, who longs for an intimate relationship with you. God knows everything about you. He knows your needs, your hurts, your weaknesses and gifts. He knows all of your sins. God knows all the ugly things about you and still wants to wrap his arms around you. He wants to hold you in his lap and whisper to you, “I love you!” God is holy, the Lord God Almighty, and God wants to be your Daddy!