Hi everyone, Rob here.
Over January we spent some time looking at the book of Proverbs. The sayings are often short and pithy and thus, often overlooked. Sometimes though, they cut right to the heart. This is because they deal with everyday situations and feelings. They are relatable at any given moment. Lately I’ve been a bit tired and irritable. I normally manage these times well enough, giving myself space and letting God restore me. This time though, I have sniped at inconveniences and added fuel to fragile situations. Proverbs 12:16 says this:
Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.
Busted! So my foolishness is exposed, my sin and selfishness revealed. Now what? In the past I would run to shame, telling myself that I’m a useless husband or some such thing, wallow in self-despair and call it repentance. No more. Now I choose to return to the Father’s love for me. I choose to let him love me . In that place I receive his mercy and give him my heart. The former posture was one of independence, albeit with religious dressing. It was “how do I fix this.” It was the actions of a spiritual orphan. But I’m not an orphan. None of us are. We are all sons and daughters of a loving Father who welcomes us into his arms and his heart. There we find such love that it washes away all shame, all pride, all stubborn independence.
Human sin made us think that God was inaccessible. Our hearts, though made for eternity, couldn’t fathom a God that was pure love. Tellingly though, in the Old Testament, God often revealed himself this way:
The Lord is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love (based on Exodus 34:6).
Our older brother, Jesus, through his life, death, resurrection and ascension has opened up our hearts to receive the Father’s love. We are one with Jesus and so we receive the Father’s love the same way he did and does. The Father spoke at his baptism/anointing:
You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased (Luke 3:22)
With a Father like that the embrace comes before the repenting. When my children feel safe and rested in their parent’s love they open up their hearts, they are more willing to accept consequences for their actions and they know that their hearts can be trusted with ours. This is why receiving the Father’s embrace leads us towards holiness, not away from it. When we receive his heart and he receives ours, we become more like him and his Son. We take on the family likeness the more we spend time in their presence. When I’m acting in a way that is inconsistent with the Father’s heart, then I know I need to move towards him, not away from him.
May you live in the Father’s love this week. May it lead you to a deep and transforming repentance. May you take on the family likeness and may Jesus, our brother, shine through you and in you for the sake of the kingdom.
Grace and peace everyone.