It wasn’t hard to get in touch with the joy of the Lord on Mother’s Day when the chaplain prayed for our mothers. My Mom’s presence came to mind as I imagined her in the presence of the Lord. I knew that “…in His presence is fullness of joy”1, and “…the joy of the Lord is my strength.”2 I expect this same strength that comes from the joy of the Lord to take me right on through Father’s day this month.
My Mom & Dad
My childhood wasn’t dysfunctional, as society defines many families today. My mom and dad were wonderful parents, who cared for their children’s every need. I was a happy child growing up with many fond memories. I shared some of these in the past view. My fondest memories were shopping with mom and fishing with dad. They are both with the Lord now, and I think of them every day. I know that one day we’ll be together again in heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be.
I had every opportunity to succeed in life, but because of my own rebellious ways, I rejected my parent’s dream for me. I turned out to be irresponsible and lazy during my college days, and not willing to work. I remember the day when my parents begged me not to leave home for California, but I wouldn’t listen. They knew what was best for me. I have shared how I went from basement of life to the penthouse, because of the finished work of Jesus Christ in the link California Dreamin’
A Father's Love
It is more difficult to understand God’s love, when the love of an earthly father is missing. Many times the love of an earthly father is so contrary to God’s love, Who “…showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.“3 Some earthly parents are more prone to punishment than love. We expect our Heavenly Father to be that way. It is not that we won’t experience the consequences of our sins, but He delivered us from the eternal punishment through the death of His Son. 4
The Psalmist David encourages us to: “Sing praises to God and to His name! Sing loud praises to Him who rides the clouds. His name is LORD - - rejoice in His presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of the widows - - this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families. He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But for rebels, there is only famine and distress.”5
For those of us who are no longer rebels, “… rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God - - all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.”6 The lack of love from an earthly father may still hurt, but knowing the love of our Heavenly Father gives us peace. We experience His rest and love like we have never known. “For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”7
Looking For Love
As a volunteer, my dad labored over nine-hundred hours building a new Methodist church in Copeville, Texas. I watched my dad dig twenty-foot deep post holes for laying the foundation, then work raising the walls and steeple. My mom was the church treasurer, plus she worked with a group of ladies cleaning the building and serving the community. We attended all the services, Sunday schools and vacation Bible school. I was baptized at the age of twelve, but I wasn’t born again, so my heart wasn’t filled by the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know the love of God.
As often said, “I was looking for love in all the wrong places.” Recently, I heard a woman on a PBS program, in all seriousness, say: “I felt this way growing up, knew my friends would accept [love] me more if I excelled in sports, dressed the best, drunk the most and drove the fastest. When I moved to California, it became, if I took more drugs or if I had more sex. Later with the peer pressure of the Manson family, I felt I would be accepted, if I pleased Charlie by carrying out his orders.
I failed to realize the unconditional love of my parents, so I ran from them, fearing failure. I felt they wouldn’t love me if I failed their expectations. Fear is a great motivator to sin. It causes people to lie, cheat, and trust in things that cannot help.8 I medicated myself with drugs and worldly things, which blinded me to their love and to God’s unconditional love. I was dependent on the love of people, places and things, instead of a personal relationship with God and a total dependency upon His love. I hadn’t received the finished work of Christ at the cross and baptism of the Holy Spirit. God loved me - - no matter what! The love of God casts out fear.9
The Apostle Paul says, “The purpose of my instruction is that all Christians would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith.”10 I believe my parents served God with love that came from a pure heart, a clear conscience and sincere faith. They rejoiced to see my salvation before their homecoming with the Lord.
How pure are your motives? I pray they are changing as you reflect on God’s word.11 I spoke of the motive for looking for more bodies from the Manson family crimes in the last month’s view. I agreed that justice must be carried out at all cost, but at the same time called for an examination of our hearts to find our true motives for looking. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 12
It has been reported that a three day search took place at the Barker Ranch in the Panamint Range, beginning on Monday, May 20, 2008, and lasted throughout Wednesday. There were no human remains found, because there were no more murders. Hopefully this search will put all rumors to rest. “Police say they don’t know of anymore associated with Manson who was reported missing after the arrest.” (CNN – Behind the scenes: Body hunt at Manson Ranch, CNN.com, May 2008).
Let us pray for those who have lost loved ones who have never been found around the world. There are millions of people suffering great tragedy in these days of turmoil. Our hearts go out in great compassion to those who are suffering, remembering Jesus, our great High Priest, Who is “…touched with the feelings of our infirmities.”13
Let us comfort others as we have been comforted by the Holy Spirit. “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 14
Here's A Prayer For You:
Our Father in Heaven, blessed is the Name that demonstrates Your love. Jesus is the love of God manifest in the flesh. Oh, grant we may know Him and the comfort that comes from our relationship with Him. Comfort us in our troubles and bless those who are suffering in these difficult times. We know it will get worse soon, but trust that as your word says: Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord, our God, delivers us from them all. You are our faithful Father; deliver us in our time of need. You are to be praised at all times, in Jesus Name. Amen.
Scripture References from the New Living Translation:
1 Psa. 16:11
2 Neh. 8:10
3 Rom. 5:8
4 Rom. 5:10
5 Psa. 68:4-6
6 Rom. 5:11
7 Rom. 5:5
8 Zeph. 3:13
9 1John 4:16-19
10 1Tim. 1:5
11 2Cor. 3:18
12 2Tim. 1:17
13 Heb. 4:15
14 2Cor. 1:2,3