(This blog carries on from last week’s blog about my first two conversions on my journey of faith in God.)
3. God, my Father
If my first two conversions can be traced to specific moments or decisions, my third conversion has been more of a process. It has been an ongoing discovery, at a heart level, of the reality of God as my Loving Heavenly Father. This growing awareness has been changing the way I think about God, myself and others and it has been healing my emotions.
We need a bit of back story to paint an adequate picture of how someone can be radically changed by a revelation of God as a personal Loving Father.
You see, my earthly father was orphaned twice. When he was two weeks old, his mother died so his father gave my dad and two older siblings to be raised by another family. My grandfather was never to be heard from again. When my dad was nine years old, his adoptive father died. So, my dad grew up without the presence of a father for many of the pivotal moments in his life. Having said that, my dad was a hard-working man full of integrity. He provided well for his family and became well established in society. However, he had no sense of inheritance, no concept of grace. So his mantra was, “You’ve gotta work hard and fight for everything you get in life.”
Growing up with an earthly father who was performance-driven caused me to feel that my sense of worth and acceptance was tied to my ability to perform. Since education was a god in our home and because I was only an average student in high school I felt that in my formative years I never received my father’s approval. It didn’t help that I had an older brother who had earned two PhD degrees by the time he was 27 … “Why can’t you be like your brother?” was the refrain I heard as my report cards were being reviewed.
When I became a follower of Jesus, I subconsciously took my earthly father’s mindset and transposed that onto my Heavenly Father. Consequently, I had become a driven disciple trying to earn God’s approval and affection. Of course, because I was never good enough in my own eyes I could never attain to that place of acceptance by God and, therefore, to self-acceptance. To be sure, this was all going on at a subterranean heart-level. Cognitively, I knew the truth that I was fully accepted and approved of as a child of God. However, at a heart-level, the place from which I really live my life, there was this dissonance. I was always working for God’s love, not from his love! I was trying to win God’s full acceptance of me, not knowing that I already had it!
Over the past twenty years, I have being part of a church movement that emphasizes the love and grace of God the Father. Through biblical teaching and the life story of others, the Holy Spirit has been removing the weeds and boulders in the garden of my heart and replacing them with a healthy vine that has been producing good fruit in the form of self-acceptance, a deeper sense of security and an awareness of God’s full acceptance. To steal from Brennan Manning, I’m now in tune with the truth that God loves me just as I am and not as I should be! Or, as John Arnott, our founding pastor puts it, “God loves us just the way we are but he loves us too much to leave us the way we are!”
Abba, I pray for everyone reading this that they would encounter you as their personal Heavenly Daddy. Lord, I pray that they will not have to wait as long as I did to discover how amazingly kind and loving you are. Lead us all into wholeness by your Word and your Spirit so that we would truly live as favoured sons and daughters of yours and demonstrate your true nature to a watching and apprehensive world. Amen!
If you feel, at the centre of your being, a tug towards experiencing (in your heart, not your head only) God as your Loving Father, let me recommend just a few resources for further teaching.
You can also Youtube any of these names for videos of their teaching on-line. Be blessed to find your place in the heart of our Father!