I was favored with an earthly father who loved me a whole lot. I’ll never forget a day that Dad and I went out flying a kite when I was growing up in Antioch, Illinois. He was handling the kite as it flew high overhead, and then suddenly it began to twirl and twirl earthwards. Finally, it crashed on the top of a building…and try as we might, we couldn’t get it down from the roof.
Dad knew our day of kite-flying had come to an abrupt end, and he knew how sad I was, and…in response, he himself was crestfallen. As I reflected on it later, it occurred to me that my father was sad because I was sad. When you love someone and they are hurting, you hurt with them. Even as a little boy, I saw and understood that, and the little incident with the kite became a picture of my father’s love for me. I never forgot it.
Now, of course, our Heavenly Father is different than our earthly father in many ways (no kite gets out of His control), but when you have a good dad as I did, you get a slight picture of the love of your Father in Heaven. This touches on prayer, of course, because understanding that God is favorably inclined toward me leads me to call on His name.
The cross is the greatest demonstration of God’s love. As I said this weekend, we do not serve a capricious, evil god, like Artemis of the Greeks, who demanded that Agamemnon sacrifice his daughter to propitiate her anger. Many people have rejected the God of the Bible because they assume Yahweh is just another picture of Artemis. In so doing, they reject the idea of atonement altogether; they may call themselves Christians but are so in name only. But in truth, we serve a God who is the exact opposite of Artemis. As Tim Keller said, “The doctrine of the Love of God is not that He demands no atonement, but that he provides one Himself.”
Let these words from the great Puritan writer John Owen wash over your heart as you consider the love of the Father for you…and let them drive you to prayer:
“The chief way that saints have communion with the Father is love – free, undeserved, eternal love. Saints are to see God as full of love to them. They are to receive Him as the One who loves them…Above all things the Father loves you. Be fully assured in your hearts that the Father loves you…Many dark and disturbing thoughts arise to hinder our walk with God. Few can rise to the height of the Father’s love by faith, so as to rest their souls in His love. They live far below it in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds. Abiding in the Father’s love, all is peace and quiet. But how to rise up to the Father’s love? It is God’s will that He should always be seen as gentle, kind, tender, loving and unchangeable. It is His will that we see Him as the Father – and the great fountain and reservoir of all grace and love. This is what Christ came to reveal!
John Owen, Communion With God