The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Faithful and true

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A father’s broken promises are a terrible testimony to the God whose word cannot be broken.

As is plain from the parallels that Scripture draws between God the father and human fathers, children should look at a parent and see their something that mediates and models the character of God.  A child should look at a father’s relationship with a mother and ultimately think, “If that is a faint reflection of the love of Jesus for the church, then that is a Jesus I want as my Saviour.”  The child likewise, from the experience of being fathered, should be drawn to think, “If my father’s love for me is a faint reflection of the heavenly Father’s love for his children, then I want to be a true child of God.”

When we make our children promises, we must underwrite them with a “God willing.”  But we must never give our children an excuse to imagine that God is not true to his promises of blessing or, indeed, his threatening of punishment.  We must never make a promise that we do not have the strictest intention of fulfilling to the best of our strength and ability; we must not make extravagant or vain promises for the fulfilment of which we have no capacity.

As God’s constituted authority and representative and teacher of his truth, if we say that we will be somewhere or do something, barring genuine providential hindrances, we must be there or do it.  If we lay down a condition upon which blessing will follow, that blessing must follow.  If we make plain that there are sanctions that will follow transgression, those sanctions must fall as promised.  Anything less opens the door for a child to doubt, disbelieve, neglect or even scorn the truth of God.  I know men whose word I simply will not take because they have made promises and given assurances that have turned out time and again to be nothing more than airy semi-intention.  Their word is not good.  The word of God is sure.  Pity the child who grows up not knowing that when God or those who communicate his truth and character speak, their words can be relied upon.  Even when we fail because of genuine providential hindrances, we can take the opportunity to remind our children that the power and wisdom of God prevents his ever falling short.

At the same time, I was reminded of a nuance of this.  Returning home recently from a day serving another church, I had a phone call from my oldest son.  He likes to chat with Daddy before he goes to bed if Daddy is somewhere else.  The usual questions: “Where have you been?  What have you been doing?  Where are you now?”  I overhear the muttered encouragements of my wife in the background that it is time for the boy to hit the sack.  Then, the promise: “I will come and see you when I get home and give you a kiss before I go to bed.”

I got back in reasonable time and, as I went up to my own bed, I stopped in on the boys, as I do, and made sure I gave Thing One a goodnight kiss (Thing Two is still in a cot, and covered in snot, so I just looked!).  Well, Thing Two was struggling with his cold and was up repeatedly in the night.  After my wife went a couple of times to calm him, I went to give him a shot of medicine (were the teeth also giving him grief?) at about 4am.  A few moments after getting back to the warmth of the sheets there was the soft padding of Thing One heading for our bedroom.  I glanced at the clock: 0400.  Yoicks!  A voice: “Daddy, you didn’t kiss me goodnight!”

I opened my arms for a high-grade huggle (a quite delicious combination of a hug and a snuggle).  How glad I was that I could say in good conscience, “I did give you a kiss!”  Then a plaintive complaint: “I didn’t feel it.”  A couple of big smooches quickly followed, and a now-happy son curled up in my arms and went to sleep.  After a few minutes I returned him to his own bed.  (Those who like completeness in these things will appreciate knowing that he was back forty minutes later when the storm woke him up, complaining that it was too dark.  I gave up on sleep, got dressed, carried him to his bed, turned the light on, and got on with the day.)

I spoke the truth to my son, and I was able to make good on my promise.  But he did not feel it.  That is not the same as a promise being unfulfilled.  It is worth remembering that our experience of the promises of God may be similar.  God has spoken words to us, given particular assurances, and held out for our future unshakeable promises.  We hear the words, we understand the assurance conceptually, but we do not feel it concretely.  We look at the future, and it seems that the providences of God are pointing counter to his promises.  We wonder whether or not God does love us.  Are the everlasting arms really underneath us?  Is he always with us?  Is he giving us wisdom in response to our desperate cries?  Why do we seem to walk in darkness when we are children of light?

We may not feel what is nonetheless true.  God does kiss us, he showers us with blessings, he encompasses us with deeds that work out his words, but we are not always aware of it.

But God is faithful and true.  He is pleased to bless us in accordance with his promises, whether we immediately and concretely feel it to be so or not.  We have no cause to doubt him, even though we may sometimes go to him with the plaintive cry, “Father, I don’t feel it.”  He is our loving heavenly Father.  At those times he may sweep us into his arms, shower us with kisses, and gently ask, “Do you feel it now?”  Then we can go to sleep.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 25 November 2009 at 15:33

Posted in Christian living

Tagged with , , ,

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