WEEK TWENTY-FOUR: THE HEART CRY OF GOD
A Father’s Day Message
To me, some of the most poignant words in all the Bible are David’s cry of grief upon hearing the news of his son’s death. This son who had betrayed him, tried to steal his throne, and brought so much grief to the family for years was the object of so much love and grief and loss that you can hear it in his father’s gut-wrenching cries:
4 The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
Can you hear this father crying out from the deepest part of his soul? Sonship is very important to the Lord, and we daughters share in the Father’s love equally. Every word in the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and He carefully placed this story for us to read and consider. God is intentional about portraying the depth of a Father’s love because He wants us to know the depth of His love and compassion for us. Stories such as the prodigal son reach out from the pages of our Bibles and cause us to marvel at the wide and deep love that only a parent can know for a child. And just as important, each of these stories portrays forgiveness and grace so wide and deep that nothing else on earth can compare to it. Such is the heart cry of the Lord for His children, you and me. The Bible calls David “a man after God’s own heart.” Through David, God chooses to show us how a Father loves despite the worst treachery and rebellion on a child’s part. It shows love beyond reason or worldly standards. When God chose that story to be shared, I believe he was saying, “This is what a Father does. This is the mercy and unmovable love I have for you.” When God allowed us to see the ungrateful, insulting prodigal son in Luke 15 finally returning home because he had nowhere else to turn and he approaches his father’s home, we see the Father running to embrace him and welcome him and bless him. My pastor says that running is a major indignity for a Middle Eastern man. This full out running toward his son is such a passionate expression of love and acceptance that we understand what “all is forgiven” really means.
God wants us to know how much He loves us. He loves us more than David loved Absalom, more than the prodigal’s father loved him, and even more than your parents loved you or that you love your children. And His is a perfect love. His love is consistent and never falters or makes mistakes. He loves us no matter what we have done in our past and no matter how we have worked against Him or spoken ill of Him. Through the stories of fathers who have hearts like His, He is speaking His love to us.
Many of the Biblical stories that illustrate God’s love for us are told as a father’s love for the nation of Israel. When we see God’s love for Israel in Isaiah 62:5, we get some insight into how God loves.
Behold, the Lord has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
“Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
12 And they shall be called The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the Lord;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.
Just like Jerusalem (Zion), we have been “sought out.” In our case we were sought by Jesus Christ who came expressly for us and who paid the price for all of our sin. He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Yet like the Israelites, we have a choice to turn away from our Father and reject this rich and overflowing love. When the Pharisees were publicly rejecting Him and intent on doing Him harm, this is how Jesus responds to them:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
This is the heart cry of a parent. This is the love that lives in the depths of a parent’s heart no matter the age of a child or whatever the child’s choices in life have been. That longing to gather your child to you is just that—longing. It is up to the child to accept the love and protection and blessing of a parent, but not all are willing. In this case, Jerusalem was not willing and shortly thereafter crucified Jesus.
Yet, He loves us still. He still longs to gather each person to Himself and show His love to us. What about you? Are you willing? God is calling out to you through His Word, through this blog, through ways you may not have stopped to acknowledge. Will you turn toward Him? He will come running to embrace you and support you for the rest of your life.
(Next week, we will continue to think about God’s feelings for us and what His tender love looks like. The story of the prodigal son, Luke 15:11-32, is printed at the bottom of this page.)