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Cakes, red meat, and fresh neckties fly off the shelves this week. I’m grateful for the ease with which I could choose a card for my wonderful dad. But many struggle with this weekend’s holiday. I heard a comedian wish aloud for a card without overstated accolades, reading something like, “Well, Dad, I guess you did the best you could.”

Others experience deeper strife than choosing an appropriate card. Father’s Day torments the orphaned, abused, or widowed. A strong sense of loss comes with grieving a beloved man or aching over the empty hole never filled by a father’s love.

God never designed fatherhood to hurt us. Nor did He intend for the role to fill a permanent need. Fathers were built into our life cycle design as a model to help us better understand significant aspects of our relationship to the Ultimate Father. A temporary model to help explain the source Who fulfills our needs forever. The Creator employs earthly dads to point their children toward relationship with a heavenly Father. Dads are meant to serve as imperfect place-holders to demonstrate the role of Our Perfect Father who will fulfill our needs forever. Where humans can only attempt to provide, God sustains us with a sufficiency beyond our expectations. Whether you have a good, hurtful, or missing one, Christ offers us all access to intimate, fulfilling relationship with a Perfect Father. No one needs to remain fatherless.

Mothers raise and nurture children, also conveying certain God-head characteristics when fulfilling their roles well. Some of the Lord’s qualities can be modeled by both parents, in different ways. For the sake of Father’s Day, let’s focus on specific divine attributes reflected in the ideal design of a father’s role.  These include protection, provision, discipline, and fatherly love.

“The Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went” (Deuteronomy 1:31).

In Deuteronomy, we see the Lord’s provision and protection described in tandem. Earthly fathers are engineered for provision and protection, but cannot meet all physical or spiritual needs for a growing individual. Human insufficiency illuminates our need for God as the ultimate resource. Like a good dad, God doesn’t indulge our every desire, but only He can sustain us by identifying and meeting our true needs. Responsible fathers try to protect their kids without insulating them from opportunities to grow. While we might experience hardship, the Lord can use our struggles toward increasing our strength. He alone can guard us against the forces of evil.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

Discipline wasn’t fun when our parents delivered it. We often shrink from the notion of loving rebuke from God. Unlike the unreliable outcomes of human correction, our heavenly Father only sets boundaries which offer increasing benefit to us. His guidance prevents disaster and steers us toward glorious, abundant life. Sinful tendencies resemble nits in our hair, and the Lord removes them as often as we allow Him to comb them out.

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).

Ideal dads show some compassion to their kids. Many never experienced this quality during childhood. Even those who had caring fathers didn’t get selfless adoration at all times. People in this broken world love imperfectly. Why did Scripture offer this insufficient analogy? Because the ancients living in Old Testament period needed a relevant starting point for understanding their relationship with God. Before Christ set aside His glory to dwell among us in human form, nothing on earth came close to the love of God. Jesus alone offered exact representation of the Father’s love.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Unconditional. Suffering when we hurt. Willing to suffer for us. Selfless. Unlimited. Over-the-top. Amazing. Beyond all our imagination can comprehend. Blowing all other concepts of love out of the water. THAT is the love our Father extends to us.

This weekend, while honoring those designed to point toward heaven, consider the gift of the cross. Christ’s outstretched arms leave no one excluded from access to a perfect Father. If you’ve never accepted the ultimate love gift of eternal life, let this be your opportunity to respond to Jesus’ scarred hands and receive His embrace. It only takes a simple but sincere prayer, like, “I need You, Jesus. I’m all yours.”

Today could begin your endless Father’s Day.

Talons gripping the crag’s edge, the eagle gazes across miles of sheer rock face. Treetops and low clouds obscure the stream on the floor below. He attunes each feather to the wind’s whisper. When the call embraces his pinions just so, he leaps. Not a trial step or tentative wiggle of his pinky toe, but a headlong dive over the ravine. Sunlight meets a twinkle in his fearless eyes. The wind catches his wings and buoys him aloft. Proving the substance of his confidence. As it had done before.

I teeter at the edge of a windy ravine when

  • a challenge demands training and experience I don’t have
  • resources shrink
  • crises overwhelm me
  • a calling requires more time than I can spare
  • Inefficacy hobbles my dreams

Have you been there with me?

My toenails grip the precipice until its chalky edge crumbles. I cry out to the Lord, “I can’t do this!”

He knows I can’t deal with this on my own.

Of course He knows. So, I might ask, “Why did you let me get into this situation?”

I cannot discern an answer, but the wind seems to beckon me. Not into an argument, but a leap. Will I abandon my futile grip, my intent to figure it out, my delusion of control? Dive into the divine embrace and trust Him to bear me up?

The option to back away from faith looms in my shadow. Ahead, immense depth gapes with nothing to uphold me but the power of an invisible force. And the wings He crafted for me. Oh, yes, how could I forget? He and I have done this before.

When my strength and resources fell short, He showed up. Every time I asked. Every time I stepped out in faith to answer His call. That updraft always proves stronger than the gravity of my life.

I find myself pausing to ask why less often. Without glancing back, I shout into the gale, “It’s all up to You!” I squint and leap into the majestic rush. Wings spread in faith, I soar along the sun-spangled drafts I’d never witness on my own power.

Thank You, Lord, for opportunities to strengthen my faith and empowering a thrilling flight.

 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

 “I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).

Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
 I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:7-8).

 

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