Father’s Day

dadandI

My father and me in Murree, Pakistan

Father’s Day is a reminder to us to go back and think of our earthly father who has influenced us over the course of our life. My father has been a generous source of caring and love. I have photos of him carrying his daughters around and you can see his giant grin that goes from ear to ear. He is the kind of father that is ready with a hilarious joke, a well-told story or the loving kindness in his smile – even for strangers.

Over the years, I have come to the realization that some don’t have a warm, fuzzy recollection of our father. For some, that person was just a “donor” and left soon after they were born. Others never knew an earthly father who raised them up.

We live in a broken, messed up world. There are painful stories people have shared with me that have brought me to tears, listening to the cruelty and heartbreak of an uncaring, missing father. Some of these personal stories have left me wondering how does this person carry on with their life or even more than that – how do they have a role model to follow?

Not only did I have my father who raised me up, but we had the additional blessing of having our maternal grandparents who lived with us for several years. My grandfather (lovingly called “Abba”) was also kind, caring and ready to sit with you. He wanted to be involved in your life and was genuine in his affection.  He was quiet in his manners and demeanor but made you feel special even when you sat next to him. He had all the time in the world to spend with you.

When I became a Christian, imagine my surprise at reading about how Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6: “Our Father in heaven,  hallowed be your name…” He told them to call God their Father. It even got more strange for me, because I was told the Aramaic (what Jesus spoke to his disciples) – “Abba.”  I about flipped out of my chair that Sunday morning! Abba was my grandfather – my grandpa. Abba was not God Almighty’s name!

As a Muslim, I was taught that God was way up high in the heavens and that he was indifferent to us unless it was during the time of prayer. You see, as  a Muslim, you have to have an appointment to truly talk to God. Even then, you aren’t really “talking” to him as an equal. You are bringing in your petition like a slave does to a king. You bow down low (literally the case during prayer) and then you say certain verses in Arabic. You don’t just plop down on the couch and chit chat with God (YIKES! Blasphemous!) but you approach His throne (see another post I wrote on this here: MY Dad’s Chair) carefully so you don’t cause offense.

There is no relationship with God. That is just a ridiculous notion to a Muslim. When I heard someone praying and calling God Almighty her “Daddy,” I freaked out then also. I did not realize that Jesus had given us the model to pray. We truly DO have the freedom to call Him our Father in Heaven, as well as “Abba.” He is just that close to us in a true relationship.

What a mind-blowing revelation to me! Yet, many Christians take this fact as nothing special. When we realize that we have officially been adopted into the Kingdom of the LORD God Almighty – creator of Heavens and earth, we should be shaking in our shoes. Instead, He welcomes us into an embrace – He runs to us (Prodigal Son parable – see Luke 15:20) with joy and His arms open wide!

On Father’s Day today, if you have a crummy earthly father, don’t give up hope. If you have a missing earthly father, don’t give up looking. If you have a wonderful earthly father, give God praise. For all of us, remember that we have a PERFECT Heavenly Father who is waiting for us very patiently to return to Him so He will run to us, embrace us, and call us His child.  What a wonderful God, Redeemer and Savior we have! Amen.

MY Dad’s Chair

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. ~Rev 3:21
King Henry VIII

When I was around 12 years old, my dad invited all of us to come and visit him in his new office in Rancho Cordova, CA. He had just received a major promotion with GTE and bragged to us about having his own executive assistant. None of this means much to a young child, but still, I was excited to see where my dad drove to daily. My mom, two sisters and I drove up to see my dad and his new office. I wasn’t too impressed until he came out to the lobby to meet us and began to show us around his office. Everyone knew him as “the Manager” & “head honcho” so I saw very quickly that he was an important man!

He led us all the way up to his office, which was located in a corner with two full walls of windows. He had an impressive mahogany desk and an equally impressive huge leather chair. Both were quite imposing and spoke to his status in the organization. My dad gleefully got in his chair and from behind his desk, looked at his three girls standing in his office. It was a bit daunting and awkward for me to picture my very own dad as someone really important… Who knew?

He must have sensed this in me because he looked right at me and patted his leg to come and sit in his lap. I didn’t need any further invitation. I quickly ran around his desk and jumped into his lap. He let me mess with the phone buttons, open and close drawers, etc. it was a neat feeling to be so close to a man so revered by others and so loved by me.

I am studying revelation in Bible Study Fellowship right now and in last week’s lesson, we covered the verse (on top) from Revelation 3:21. I am still pondering it after so many days. I knew the other verses in the  Bible that say we are co-heirs and that we may approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) and things like that, but I did NOT know that Jesus actually invites us to sit with him on his throne!

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:16

Can you even imagine that?

My first thought was “why?” Why would the Lord of the Universe invite me to sit on the throne from where he rules? Ridiculous! That doesn’t even sound right. In the Muslim mindset, God is way up there and you are not even fit to be around him. He is the Master and you are the servant. In fact, God is not present with you in Paradise. He rules above it. He wouldn’t demean himself and come hang out with the humans. Never.

Never… Unless you understand who Jesus is and what He has done for us. He is the one who came down to be with us, not us trying to reach God or the heavens. This is the thing you will not find in any religion. In fact, Jesus is not interested in religion but is completely interested in a relationship. He calls us to trust Him as the Good Shepherd who will lay his life down for his sheep. He is the widow who will turn her house upside down to find the lost coin. He is the merchant who will sell all he has to find the Pearl of great price. He is not interested in a checklist of rules, but is more interested in the condition of your heart.

He is the loving Father who calls us “little ones” and tells us to bring our burdens to him. He is the sweet and loving Father who will one day pat his lap and tell you to come and sit with Him, the King of Kings and Lord of lords, on His throne. Not as a slave or servant, but as His beloved child, created in His image. There, He will wipe away every tear from your eyes.

What a beautiful picture of love and redemption. What a beautiful Savior. Amen.