Monday, February 13, 2012

MY FATHER IS GOD (REPOST, SORT OF)

I am part of a group of writers who work together to produce a weekly column for the Religion section of our local newspaper. In two-and-a-half years, we've written a series on significant figures of the Reformed faith, one on historic church councils, and a series on the attributes of God. Currently, we are writing a series of articles based on the Heidelberg Catechism. What a tremendous blessing it has been to me to work with these writers as we study together and consider afresh the great truths of this faith that sustains us!

While I consider this labor part of my ministry to my local church and to my community, it is no less true that this labor is a ministry to me. Repeatedly, God has used the words of one of my fellow writers to encourage me or challenge me in a timely way. Likewise, God has often had me sit down to write an article myself, only to find that the assignment for the week seemed precisely fitted to my struggles or concerns of the day.

We schedule our writing assignments several weeks (even months) in advance, so it always amazes me when I tackle a topic and find it so intensely personal and immediately applicable to my current situation. Such was the case a couple of months ago when I sat down to work on an article based on Lord's Day 9 of the Heidelberg...

MY FATHER IS GOD
(The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 9)

A crazy-busy week ushered in Christmas. Christmas Day itself was filled with worship, celebration, and feasting with family. Finally, the Monday after Christmas, I had a quiet morning to sit down at the computer to begin work on this article.

I had just powered up the laptop and checked email when my son-in-law called from Iowa. He and my daughter were driving to the Emergency Room. My daughter was fairly certain she was losing the baby, their first child and my first grandchild. “Yes, I will pray for you!” I assured them. But when I hung up the phone, I sat in stunned silence. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. “Oh, Lord,” I wept, “Be merciful to us. Give us the grace we need for this hour!”
Much later, I sat back down at the humming computer and turned it Off. No, nothing in me wanted to write that Monday morning. Instead, I reached for the Heidelberg Catechism. I was too sad to write, but I could at least read through the question for the next "Soli Deo Gloria" column. And this is what I read, on the heels of that heart-breaking phone call:
Question 26: What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth”? Answer: That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by His eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ His Son. I trust Him so much that I do not doubt He will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and He will turn to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this sad world. He is able to do this because He is almighty God; He desires to do this because He is a faithful Father.
Read that again. Think about it. God, the almighty and omnipotent, created heaven and earth “ex nihilo” – out of nothing – and He sustains and rules every bit of this created world by His power and wisdom. No, He did not start with some kind of elemental raw material, cooked over billions of years into life as we know it today. He started with nothing. Everything that IS came into being by the power of His word, by the intent of His will, and for the fulfillment of His own purposes. And, No, He did not just set everything in motion and then step back to watch it unwind. Rather, He sustains and rules and directs all of creation for His explicit purposes.
A God that powerful and that intimately involved in His creation would be terrible to consider, were it not that He is my Father – because of His Son Jesus. Some people call God “the Father of all,” referring to the truth that God is Lord and Creator of all mankind. But in the sense of familial union, God is “Father” only to those adopted in Christ (see John 1:12-13 and Hebrews 2:10-17). Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, is my brother; my Father is God, the eternal, almighty Creator of heaven and earth.
Because God is God and because God is my Father, I can be confident that He is both able and eager to provide all my needs and to orchestrate all the affairs of my life to accomplish what is best for me. Even in this “sad world” – and this world is very sad indeed, sometimes!
In The Good News We Almost Forgot, Kevin DeYoung writes: “… (God) will turn to good whatever adversity He sends me. The Bible is not na├»ve about suffering. Trusting in God’s provision does not mean we expect to float to heaven on flowery beds of ease. This is a ‘sad world’ we live in, one in which God not only allows trouble but at times sends adversity to us. Trust, therefore, does not mean hoping for the absence of pain but believing in the purpose of pain. After all, if my almighty God is really almighty and my heavenly Father is really fatherly, then I should trust that He can and will do what is good for me in this sad world.”
That is what God led me to read that tearful Monday morning. In His sweet providence, He led me right to the solace I needed. God is so very, very good!
God is your Creator and Sustainer, Dear Reader, and He is your Lord, whether you acknowledge Him or not. Do you not desire the great comfort of calling Him Father?

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