Intimacy with God has been a recurring theme for me lately. Knowing God is the greatest joy of life. Friendship with the Holy Spirit is the most fulfilling relationship we can have, but for many it is difficult to believe that God wants to have friendship with them because of their past or current failures.
So many Christians live with the false mindset that God is disappointed with them or that their failures have disqualified them for God’s use. Among many other things, this stronghold of the mind is one of Satan’s tactics for keeping us from the presence of God.
The Father has been revealing His heart to me in new ways as I have faced new challenges and come up short in certain areas. Our view of God The Father is greatly shaped by our relationship with our earthly father. Whether we have a great dad or whether we had an absent or abusive father, we have to realize that God The Father is completely and utterly unlike our earthly father. God says through the prophet Isaiah, “‘For My thoughts are higher than your thoughts, nor are My ways your ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
I have an incredible earthly Father, but despite this fact I had been unable to shake the idea that when I come to The Father after falling short He stands with a frown on His face, arms crossed, shaking His head and saying, “Why did you do that?”
I return with my head hung low, feeling disqualified and inadequate. The thoughts flood in, “I’m going to have to re-earn God’s trust. The Father is disappointed with me.” I may not think these thoughts explicitly, but I can begin to feel that my shortcoming has ruined God’s ability to fulfill His original plan for my life. Instead of His original plan, He’s going to have to come up with a new, less magnificent plan for my life (because apparently I think God’s plans are extremely fragile).
I was feeling this way recently when the Father gave me a picture of His true perspective on my shortcomings. He showed me a picture of a father teaching his son how to ride a bike. When the son falls off the bike, the father doesn’t look on in disappointment, but he picks the boy up, dusts him off, and shows him how to correct his mistake.
When his son falls, the father doesn’t look at him as a failure, but he comes to show him how to do better. Now, if the father tells the son to lean to the right so that the bike will stay upright, but the son—thinking he knows better—leans to the left, he will continue to crash the bike and injure himself until he heeds his father’s advice.
It’s the same with our Heavenly Father. The Father knows we will fail, just as a father knows his child wont be able to ride a bike perfectly on his first try. When we disobey He doesn’t say, “I told you so.” He doesn’t hold it over our heads.
In no way am I advocating a low view of disobedience and sin or proposing that The Father does not discipline His children. The Bible is very clear that The Lord disciplines and chastens his children out of love, but the discipline is intended to produce repentance and conviction, not guilt. After we have repented and turned from our sin, The Father erases our debt and starts afresh with a blank slate.
Often, God’s way of disciplining us is by letting us have what we want and allowing us to suffer the consequences of our own decisions. In Romans 1, the Apostle Paul talks about how God “gives people over” to the consequences of their disobedience. Just like how the boy who refuses to lean right will continue to crash his bike, the person who refuses God’s instruction and correction will continue to bring himself harm.
The Father does not give arbitrary commands. As Mike Bickle says, “All of God’s judgments are aimed at whatever interferes with love.” His commands and disciplines are there to protect us from anything that will harm us and to remove anything that will keep us from His presence. Does God feel sorrow and pain over our disobedience? Yes. But He is not disappointed in us. He feels sorrow because he knows that disobeying His commands only brings us harm.
The Father earnestly desires our good. No one is behind us and is cheering us on more than The Father. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Notice there’s an exclamation point at the end of that verse). The Word proclaims to us that, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Instead of being disappointed, The Father comes and picks us up, cleans off our scraped up knees, hugs us, comforts us, and encourages us to try again.
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