Today I am happy to post a piece written by my friend Karen Goldapp. I would love to feature more writers from our CTR community on this blog, so please let me know if you have a piece you would like to share. Listening and learning from one another is a gift of community. Thank you, Karen!
My most favorite teacher/preacher is Mike Bickle, who started and runs the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. He said something in a teaching that I will never forget, "Lovers always outwork workers". To me, this statement is so obvious-clearly in our own lives we give and receive the most from our closest, deepest, best relationships, far, far beyond what we are required to do at work. Yet this simple truth is harder for me to accept when I think about Our Father. It exposes my heart towards Our Father. One that doesn't really trust in His love.
I recently listened to a sermon about Our Father's love for us, and the speaker thought God loved him, but didn't really trust that God actually loved him. Basically a worker mentality, rather than a lover relationship. It's a simple thing, but pretty much the basis of our whole faith (John 3:16 comes to mind). Here is a link to the sermon, if you think it might help you, it probably will: www.ihopkc.org
When I think of what our culture says about Our Father, and what some of us experience in earthly parents and other leaders, it's not a pretty picture what actually comes to mind (ok, stop now and listen to that sermon; it's really good, I promise!) Here is what Jesus, the 2nd person of the Trinity, our beloved Lamb and Bridegroom, said in his explanation to the religious leaders about why He was hanging out with "sinners". Jesus in a short story illustrates what we are like, and most importantly, what Our Father is like, in the famous Prodigal Son story. The Prodigal Son, like me, hasn't really got his Father's heart yet. He even wants to return to his Father like a “hired worker”. See how pervasive the worker mentality is? We pick up in the story when the son decides going home is better than starvation, and his daddy is watching and waiting for him:
Luke 15:20 (WYC): And when he [son] was yet afar, his father saw him, and was stirred by mercy. And he [father] ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And a Jewish translation...
OJB: And while he [son] was still a long way off, his Abba saw him, and was filled with heavenly mercy and compassion and tears, and fell upon his neck and kissed him.
We sing a song about us running to God, and yes, we choose to follow Our Father, but really He is running to us. He is humble though. So, so, so, very, very, very humble- as evidenced by the freedom Abba gives the Prodigal Son (ahem, us) to make messes in the world- even destructive messes that cause others pain and loss. Anyways, this running God, the One who is so much more engaged with me, my soul, than I am, the One who is far more committed, kind, gracious, and invested in my well being than I am...that's...my papa, my daddy?
Whew, that last sentence was intense for me. Unbelievable, actually. So here's what Jesus had to say in His final recorded prayer, with the disciples, right before He would be tortured, murdered, and sacrificed:
John 17:23 and 26 "and that you [Father God] have loved them just as you have loved me" and Jesus' prayer that God [Father God] loves us like God loves Jesus, "so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I myself may be united with them"!!!
What??!! Jesus of course flowed in a perfect love relationship with the Father, but us?? Father, Mother, Eternal Creator God loves me like He loves His perfect son? Jesus' life, death, and resurrection is/was/will be so that we have His relationship with the Father. I understand with my mind that Father God loves me. I know, however, that my heart needs more healing to believe in the kind of radical love that God has for me. When I have this love in me more than I have air to breath or blood in my veins, living a life of love to others, the broken, lost, hateful, and needy won't be a chore, won't be work. It will be from the overflow of confidence in the Being who loves me just as much as He loves Himself and His perfect Son.
Our Father is the best, most perfect Father. Words can't convey the Perfect Love who kisses all our boo boos with the most tender of care; He makes glittery, extravagant signs and jumps with joy at our graduation; He sees and affirms all our giftings and unique design like no one else; He tells us when not to listen to the haters and go out with boldness to operate in our calling. Our community at CAE will be transformed by knowing the love of Our Father, as when we see the byproducts of all our insecurities and worries melt away. How will we know when we have faith in Love? When we can take divine correction and believe its for our best. When we can be vulnerable with each other and ourselves. When we want to be in His presence, talk with Him, share our time, money, and friendship with the Trinity because, well, we'd just love to.
- Advent reflection from Karen Goldapp