April 17th 2017
I don't know how personal I want to get on my website, but I do want to share about the most rewarding and the most difficult relationship in my life... my relationship with my earthly father.
If you have read my book you have read about me meeting my dad when I was a full grown (young) man. He did not raise me but by the will of God, he and I met years later. I had a step-father who raised me and I have taken his name.
I have not been the best son throughout my life. Looking back at my life with my step-father, I can say that at best I was a mediocre son. You see, I am a father now and I see things differently. There are things I wish my children understood about being good children for their parents and its all making me to realize what a mediocre son I was to my dad. Sure things were hard over the years. I don't think I am being too hard on myself when I say, I wish I had given him mercy instead of being afraid of him...
Sure, its easy to justify myself in many of the things I did: staying away from him, hardening my heart, withholding mercy. He was wrong. And in some ways he reaped what he sowed, it was his fault and I am not to blame. I was the child and he was the parent. But I wish I was taught a different way, in hindsight.
I am a Christian, or follower of Christ better yet. I have had such a zeal for God since I can remember. But somehow I learned to judge. I don't mean just "discernment" or the kind of judgment that is required in making decisions, I mean the judgment that brings forth "justice" or "sentencing" or "condemnation". That's the judgment Jesus says, "Don't do this". Yet, as Christians we have all learned it.We were taught from the youngest of ages to judge who is righteous and who is not.
We were taught to judge who is God's and who is not. We were taught to judge who is going to heaven and who is condemned to hell. We were taught especially to look with our eyes and hear with our ears and feel with our hearts and to use those senses to judge. But Jesus says, "Do not judge according to the mere appearance."
For the longest time I was my dad and mom's biggest judge. I didn't mean to be. I was taught this for sure. But in reality I lived as there judge. I was especially my fathers judge, even moreso than my mother. Ironically after Bible College, I felt especially equipped to judge and critic him. There was no more mercy. All the mercy had been somehow removed from my innocent heart. I remember wanting to show him mercy but my heart kept wanting to condemn him.
It was so much worse once I met my biological father. I had so much ammunition. There was so much I had "on" him that it was easy to feel justified (to feel "justice") in cursing him from time to time. If you would have told me at the time that I was doing this, I would argued and probably won. But eventually our hearts get revealed. We can hide these things away for only so long. Especially those closest to us, we can not hide our hearts from them forever.
What was I so angry about? What was I so upset with? Why did I have this constant urge to preserve myself? What was I so afraid of? Looking back... so much fear, anger, offense... so much judgment. I was not a real christian. I was hurt and I had a reason to be. But I was in no way a part of the solution. I was a Judge. I was a Condemner. I was just like the enemy of the world, the Accuser, reminding everyone of just how bad they really are...
I was so mad at my step-father but I didn't know why? I was so upset at my biological father, and I even had lots to stay angry about. I got angry at most every societal structure. But religion was at the top of the list! I remember writing and writing and reading things back that I had written. Especially the more honest things revealed to me that I was hurting... but what was so wrong with me!? I think people have been asking that about me for years... Whats troubling Robert?
It seems to have taken years for the Lord to convince me to receive His mercy. I remember one day the Lord said to me, "No one loved your father the way people have loved you. People never prayed for him like they pray for you..." It broke my heart. I realized in a moment how wrong I was... about so many things. What kind of "christian" had I been? Man of God!? Hardly. I was much more a part of the problem than the solution.
God started to show me more about the way He sees things. He is not a Judge, quite to the contrary of popular opinion, God is a Father. (Even now there are religious zealots reading this, quite bothered, quoting scriptures to themselves, holding to the fallen image of God as our Judge.) He is love. God can not be Good and Bad at the same time. He can not be loving, merciful, gracious and longsuffering but also be "The Great Judge of Man".
We read the Bible with our own lens. We read with Bible and come to conclusions about God based on what is inside of us. Full of fear, God will be a very frightening "All-Powerful" Dictator/Ruler. Full of rage, He will be a Judge, ready to smite the people of the earth whenever we step out of line. Full of doubt, God will be some distant-absentee landlord, who once spun the whole world into motion but has since forgotten about us... Something inside of our hearts needs to change... But who can change it!?
There have been few relationship on earth that has affected me so profoundly like the relationship with my earthly, biological father. (If any women feel belittled, that is inside of you dear sister, I imply nothing of the sort as I write candidly and from my heart. Please pray about these things. I am not against you.) Through no other relationship in my life have I had more struggle and felt more pain than in my dealings with him. I want us to be careful here not to talk about "right and wrong", as if to say, what he did right to me and what he did wrong to me; that is not a part of the conversation here. Quite the contrary, I am saying it almost didn't seem to matter whether he was doing right or wrong to me, what seemed to matter the most was me taking all these things to my Heavenly Father... Let me explain
Are we victims? or Victors!? If I have no power than whatever someone "Does to me" controls me, controls my response, but if I have power than their actions are not the issue. Am I defeated? Or am I a Conqueror!?
As children we are so very dependent on our parents. We are vulnerable and innocent. And many of us have been hurt throughout those years, and then there is the biggest pain of them all, which is simply the curse that has spread the earth, the curse that keeps us at distance from our God. So we all struggle with pain. No one is exempt from it. There is no escaping the brokenness of this life. But there is an escape, there is Salvation! As we grow up we start to realize, there is something very wrong here... we start to feel the pain...
There are many traps along the way, many traps. We learn to blame. We learn to hide ourselves away. We learn to surrender to this curse and live as defeated, as victims, as hopeless and abandoned children... and the curse spreads the earth... This curse affects everything and so much of it begins at home, with mom and dad. So of course we blame them... they are easy targets... and curse overcomes us, our God-given power is forgotten and we come to live in fear.
I will write about this more... But there are BLESSINGS that come from blessing our fathers. God created things to function this way. Its one of the greatest commandments, "Honor thy father and thy mother..." He says it again when He reveals His name to Moses, Exodus 34, "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children..." And again when He tells us how He will prepare the world for His return, "I will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers..." (Malachi 4:5,6) But what generation will finally surrender to the love of God!?
Its His love that says, "Trust in me" and "I will never leave you and never forsake you." Its the love of God that tell us, "It's going to be alright. I am going to make everything good again! Trust me!" It's God, our Father, who is only love, who says, "Do not be afraid. I will save you!! I have saved you!! Receive my salvation!" God is love, He is not our Judge, He is our Father. Some will become the children of the love of God, but some will reject His love and choose instead to remain afraid. Some will call themselves "christians" even yet continue in this fear, refusing His love and they will curse the world... Some with a great zeal will inflict such damage believing themselves to be righteous yet judging the world unto hell, never coming to the love of their Father.
There will be a judgment. But Jesus says that we will be our own judges. James tells us we will be judged for everything that comes out of our mouths. God offers us forgiveness and mercy and Salvation! But men would rather judge and be judged.
Something happened to my heart when I stopped judging my father and I started to give him mercy. Something profound and difficult to explain changed inside of me when I asked God to give me His heart towards me dad. I have wanted to be one of God's men for so many years. I feel like I have only just begun in the process. To be a man of God begins with receiving His mercy and forgiveness (in Jesus Christ) and then given out the forgiveness, passing out His mercy!
Have you ever played the board game, Monopoly? Sometimes I like to say, "We are here to pass out "Get out of Jail Free" cards." We are here to extend God's Mercy to a lost and dieing world. We are not here to be Judges. We are not here to fight against the world. We are here to love. And the more we learn to love, the more we become like God!
This is His Salvation upon the earth...
And He has given our fathers a very special key to help us in the process...
So we should start our journey by learning to love our fathers...
Be blessed children of the Living God!
It's what He wants for us... Amen.