I have a confession to make. I am a theology professor who often lacks love and discipline. I do not read Scripture as much as I should, I do not pray like I want to and I do not regularly (or usually) have a “quiet time.” I crave being right, I forget to think of others and I tend to value tasks as more important than people.
So, maybe it is appropriate to ask why I should write a post on the topic of keeping close to the Father. I write because closeness to the Father has more to do with who God is than with what we do.
This post is not about tips for how to succeed in your Christian life. It is about your Father in heaven, who adores you and longs for you to come to Him whenever you can. I probably have no real tips for success in spirituality anyway, but what I do have I will share.
Here are three truths about time with the Father:
- The Father always waits for you.
Remember the Parable of the Prodigal Son? The father in the story waited for his younger son and ran to meet him on the road with hugs and kisses. And he went out to his older son, even as the older son stood in judgment of his younger brother.
Jesus told that parable to picture the radical love of our Heavenly Father. Despite your failings, your sin or your unwillingness to draw close to God, He longs to be with you. Whenever I have not spent time with the Father like I want to, I always feel His loving arms embracing me when I finally return. He is glad that I am back. He does not mention how long it has been or what kept me away. Instead, He throws a big party.
- Your shame only keeps you away.
In fact, the more shame you feel, the less likely you are to come back to God. Shame sends the message that there is something uniquely wrong with who we are and it causes us to hide. So, if your shame comes from a failure to pray, it will cause you to avoid prayer even more.
This pattern goes all the way back to Adam in Genesis 3, who tried to hide from God because of his shame of being naked. But we must remember what God said to him in that moment: “Where are you?”
Despite Adam’s sin, God sought Adam out because he cared for Adam. Instead of feeling ashamed at your failure to draw close to God, you should simply take that opportunity to draw close to God. He still asks you “Where are you?” because He loves you.
- God is the greatest desire of your heart.
God satisfies you like no one or nothing else can. In other words, you want to spend time with Him. This point is important for considering how you draw close to the Father. Are you coming because you feel like you have to come in order to make Him happy with you? Or, are you coming because He loves you, you love Him and so you desperately long for time with Him? The first way is guaranteed to leave you broken and disappointed eventually. The second way is set up to bring you true joy and peace in life. God is the greatest good for us, and so it is joy and pleasure to be with Him. You want to be with the Father!
In other words, this post is not intended to convince you that it really is worth it to spend time with the Father (like “eating your vegetables”). All this post can do is remind you how wonderful and satisfying God is in Himself (like advertising free pizza).
God delights in you, He conquered your shame by the cross and He satisfies you with His love. If you are willing to believe these truths, you really can do nothing else but spend time with our Heavenly Father.
Now to listen to my own advice…
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