Fear flooded his heart as he stood before me trembling. Alex had only been coming to our youth group for about six months prior to this incident, but he sure he had done the inexcusable this time. Earlier that evening, he decided to sneak past our security guards to “borrow” the fire extinguisher and head out for a good time. His chosen target- our neighbor’s house. Their house was decorated with Christmas ornament, but there was no snow on the ground- until Alex showed up.
After getting caught covering the yard with Christmas glee, Alex found himself with one of our leaders awaiting my arrival. It was at this point that fear flooded his heart over the possibility of an unknown outcome. He had seen this before but was unprepared for what punishment would look like here. To him, punishment was learned in the foster care system. He was sure he would be sent away because that is what happened all the times before. Alex’s perspective was radically changed when we began our conversation.
When I approached him, I could overhear conversation about the need to clean up his mess. This scared boy saw me and immediately looked down. “Learn anything Alex?” I asked. “Yah” he replied. At this point, I continued the conversation about cleaning up the mess and then hugged him. Looking up at me confused, I continued, “I love you and am proud of your for taking responsibility to clean up your mess.” At this, his countenance changed. He expected to be punished, banished even, but that is not what he received. He picked up his head and smiled. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
This is one of many encounters of this nature with Alex. Every time, the response was the same: love. Students like Alex is why I do what I do and why I love it.
Alex needed to see what the love of the Father felt like for him, over and over again. But in reality, all of us need that. And as we receive it from God and each other in community is the way we will give it away to a generation. The biggest need in society today is fatherhood, and the number one thing Jesus came to reveal was the Father.
Here are 5 things the Father wants us to really know.
1. He loves us unconditionally.
That means exactly what it says. There is nothing we can do to earn his love. Condemnation, shame and fear are not from God. They are not “tools” he uses to make us more holy or like him. Punishment never made anyone more like God. Love comes from God. God is love. We cannot exhaust God’s love, ever, God cannot deny him self. It’s who he is. He is always with us, for us, and cheering us on. When we do well, he loves, when we fall, he loves. As a father I would never shame my kids into to getting their lives right. Loving conviction always calls out destiny and deals with the problem so we can fulfill our purpose and be his son or daughter. Love never fails!
2. He is a jealous Father.
As a Father my greatest passion is to see my kids grow in relationship with the Lord, flourish in life and joyfully live out their purpose. I am jealous for their hearts and minds to be immersed in grace and truth. Anything that comes against that I come against for their good. I stand against anything that would seek to pollute my kid’s innocence or steal from them. At times there is loving correction or discipline to help them learn and grow through every situation. My wife and I have said no to all other people by giving one yes to each other. By saying yes to God, as the highest place of love in our hearts all other loves get put in their place.
3. He establishes us in our identity.
In order to understand and live out our purpose we have to understand who we are in a Kingdom. Kingdom means the Kings domain. In Christ we have been born into a Kingdom. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
God is our Father, Jesus is the first Son risen from the dead and because of him and the finished work of the cross we are now Sons and Daughters of the King. That makes you and I royalty in the Kingdom of God and we now relate to Him is as sons and daughters. This is the context on which the Father deals with us on a daily basis. We are Sons and Daughters!
4. He has massive purpose for our lives.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” God has created each of us with a unique purpose in mind. There is a reason why you see the world like you do, and why you love what you love and hate what you hate. The Father is weaving our lives together like a fine tapestry and he uses everything in our lives, nothing gets wasted. It’s amazing what The Lord has used in my past to fulfill purpose! - Psalm 37:4
5. He empowers us!
The grace of God is best described as unmerited favor upon a believer showing it through the life. Grace empowers! Grace doesn’t just take us out of the negative but puts us way into the positive. You are a child of God! Our lives are marked with favor beyond what we can work for or ever earn.
Receiving empowering grace happens through relationship. Get alone with the Father today and let him love you and empower your heart as his Son or Daughter to shine as a diamond in a dark world.