April 12, 2009
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth on the cross, will draw and attract all to Myself.”
John 12: 32, Amplified Bible
“What The Cross Tells Me About My Father”
“God proved His love on the cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died it was God saying to the world – I love you.”
What have I seen in my own life that shows me how much my heavenly Father loves me?
“Nothing binds me to my Lord like a strong belief in His changeless love.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“The cross is God’s centerpiece on the table of time.”
I am one of those very blessed girls who had a kind, compassionate and Godly earthly father who served as a role model in helping me better understand the characteristics of my heavenly Father.
As with most kids though, my relationship with my dad was not always problem free. Especially in my teens and early twenties. My view of my dad was tainted by my own immaturity and lack of knowledge. I saw many of his decisions as harsh and arbitrary. I felt he was demanding and that his desire in life was to keep me from “having fun.” Some of the boundaries he set up to protect me were seen as hindrances to impede me.
However, as the years passed, and my relationship with my father grew, much to my surprise, the very qualities of my dad I once criticized, eventually became the elements of my dad’s character which I admired the most.
Time spent getting to know my dad, gave me a completely new outlook on the person he was.
This is why I want to spend this day we call, Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day, to take a few moments and look at what the cross and the events that surrounded the death and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, tell us about our Father.
There are two critical reasons why it is so important we have a correct view of our Father. First, my view of my heavenly Father is key in helping me form a correct perception of myself and God’s other children. Let me explain this thought in very practical terms. Children growing up in homes where fathers are mean and unkind, find that it is more difficult to understand qualities like gentleness and kindness. In fact, psychologists tell us that what we are surrounded by in our early years can end up having such an affect on us we may even become like the person we detested. If I perceive my heavenly Father to be mean and demanding, cruel and arbitrary – it is possible the God I believe in may end up being the God I reflect.
Second, and this is a question I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion. If I believe God to be a demanding, critical and harsh person, why in the world would I want to spend eternity with a person who contains these distasteful qualities.
Yet, after hearing the story of the cross. I’ve heard people say, “Why would God demand so much? Is God really as harsh and angry as some people say He is?”
I’d like to take this day of celebration to celebrate not only the joy and hope that the resurrection of Jesus brings into your life and mine, but also to celebrate the joy and hope that permeates my life today because of what the cross tells me about my Father. There are four specific truths I want to reflect on:
1. The cross tells me my heavenly Father tells the truth. If we go back to the beginning of time on earth, in Genesis 3: 4, the crafty serpent in the Garden of Eden made a claim in direct contradiction to what God had said. God warned Adam and Eve that sin was so corrosive and deadly, it would kill. He told His children to stay away from sin. But in words that defied what God had said, the serpent told Eve if she acted in direct disobedience to God and decided her way was better than God’s way, “You shall not surely die.” The devil’s claim was that God was a liar, trying to keep His children under His thumb where He could limit their capacity. However, as you and I witness the weight of sin crushing out the life of God’s Son on Calvary, there can be no doubt in our minds that our Father tells the truth – sin does cause death.
2. The cross tells me my heavenly Father is trustworthy. Isn’t it wonderful to know that when someone says something to you, you can depend on the information they have given you. In Genesis 3: 15, God made a promise to Adam and Eve that although the worst had happened and the stain of sin had ruined what God called perfect, God had a plan in place that would make everything “recreated” again. Down through the years, God’s children like Abraham and Sarah, Noah and his wife, Deborah and Barak, Rahab the harlot, and a myriad of others, believed and trusted that as Rahab so beautifully expressed, “I know God. He is the God of heaven and earth. And He can be trusted.” The cross confirms the belief of so many of God’s children who have chosen to stake their claim on the word of a trustworthy God.
3. The cross tells me my heavenly Father is merciful. God didn’t have to forgive His children for their blatant disobedience. He didn’t have to make a way of escape. He could have left us to our own designs, but He didn’t. The Psalmist David, who was on the receiving end of God’s unlimited mercy wrote these words as he began to understand what his Father was really like: “But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving – kindness and truth” (Psalm 86: 15). In the words of Chris Bowater, “Your mercy covers me in love. Your life adorns and beautifies, I stand complete in You.”
4. The cross tells me my heavenly Father is love. In an evening meeting with the Pharisee, Nicodemus, as Jesus tried to explain what God was like to this man, struggling to figure out what was truth, Jesus spoke these unforgettable words recorded by the Apostle John: “For God so loved and dearly prized the world that He even gave up His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16). The operative word here is “gave,” or as the Greek translation says, “bestowed.” The Son was God’s gift of love. Not the mercenary act of an angry God demanding payment – but a gift bestowed upon us by a loving Father who understood that we could never lift ourselves out of the pit of destruction we got ourselves into, no matter how hard we try.
This day and everyday, with gratitude, let us lift our voices in rejoicing that the cross is God’s evidence of the essence of who He is -- truthful, trustworthy, merciful and loving. And this is a God I not only want to get to know better every day of my life, but my Father, who I want to spend eternity with.
“O God, my heart is fixed, steadfast…for Your mercy and loving-kindness are great and high as the heavens! Your truth and faithfulness reach to the skies.”
Psalm 108: 1, 4
“O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”
As I was preparing the devotionals for this past week, I read a poem, written by Nancy Thomas, an American Quaker missionary who served with her husband and their family among the Aymara Indians of Bolivia. Her words deeply moved me as I pray they will you, too. They express, so poignantly, the nature of a Father who would do everything possible to restore His relationship with each one of His children.
“Candles and rose light
through cathedral glass
poorly define him.
No gentle picker of pale
violets in grass.
No wandering shepherd
breathing wisdom and hymns
in shaded vale.
Let it pass.
I serve a hard God.
Liken him to a raging fire.
forcing Pharaoh higher
to cliff’s edge,
then to churning sea;
see him swallowing Korah
in an extemporaneous tomb;
recall his intended pyre
to be built
from his erring
but chosen sons,
quenched only by Moses’ plea.
I serve a hard God.
He walks a stern path
through the earth.
His voice roars
in his wake
waves are hurled
desolations are his footprints
in the world.
He is hard
and his way was stone,
touch and free
driven through bone
and splintered to a tree.
He thunders and kills
from below, in, above;
he consumes all dross.
He is stern
like a cross.”
“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Available May 2009
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.