In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God (John 16:26-27).
Turning the hearts of the children to the Father begins with the revelation and experience of the Father’s burning passion for messed-up human beings. The average Christian sees a perverted image of the Father. They base their relationship with Him on a perception of Him being an arbitrary, untrustworthy, aloof despot, demanding perfection before He can or will interact with us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Being male and female, both sexes reflect aspects of the glory of the Father. There is a tender, compassionate heart at the center of the Father’s existence that Paul describes as the kind of love and care a mother would show for her children.
But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us (1 Thess. 2:7-8).
The Bible commends fathers to exhort, encourage, charge and discipline (Heb. 12:8) their children. But without the underlying understanding of the mercy and compassion of the Father for us, when the Lord begins to discipline and train us, we get the wrong impression and experience of the Father. This could come through bad perceptions and poor or non-existent experiences with our natural fathers. Our “perception filters” are clogged with sin, bad theology, wrong perceptions, wounds, deceptions and lies. Experiencing the Father’s burning compassion for us can undo in a moment’s time what years of experience had released into us.
Psalm 103:13 says: As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. The word “pities” in this passage (Hebrew, racham) means “to fondle.” It comes from another Hebrew word, rechem, which means “womb.” This word is also translated “mercy” in many passages of scripture. When God fashioned the woman, she became the “wombed-man,” who reflected the incredible mercy and compassion locked up in the Father’s heart for humanity. There is nothing like a mother’s love. Yet a mother’s love reveals only a dim reflection of the passionate emotion locked up in the Father’s heart for us. It is vitally important for this end-time generation to experience the Father’s burning love and compassion. Nothing can undo years of demonic deception and hurt like coming into contact with a love that desires you in spite of yourself, and will never leave you nor forsake you in the midst of your greatest blunders and failures. The Father offers a refuge of love and mercy for the hurting, weak and broken. All of the circumstances, situations and hardships where we find ourselves help to drive us to His presence, so we can experience His mercy and compassion. When we encounter the Father, we find His limitless compassion. This is the foundation for true healing and deliverance. His perfect love casts out all intimidation. (1 John 4:18.)
Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. (Heb. 1:3.) Everything attributed to Jesus is, by default, attributed to the Father. Look at the following points relating to the Father’s compassion exhibited through the Lord Jesus:
- Compassion “moved” Him to heal the sick – “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Mark 14:14).
- Compassion “moved” Him to feed them – “Then Jesus called the disciples unto Him, and said, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with Me now three days, and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way’” (Matt. 15:32).
- Compassion “moved” Him to restore the blind – “So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him” (Matt. 20:34).
- Compassion “moved” Him to cleanse the leper – “The Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed’” (Mark 1:41).
- Compassion “moved” Him to revelatory teaching about the Father – “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34).
- Compassion “moved” Him to cast a demon out of a tormented boy – (the boy’s father speaking) “And often he (the demon) has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22).
- Compassion “moved” Him to raise the dead – “When the Lord saw her (the widow of Nain), He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’…So he who was dead (her son) sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother” (Luke 7:13).
In the parable of the prodigal son, (Luke 15:11-32), Jesus gives us one of the clearest insights into the heart of the Father. In the story, a father’s youngest son comes to him demanding his inheritance because he is tired of serving the father on the father’s farm. It is obvious that the younger brother has been listening to the older brother’s assessment of their father being a demanding man, only wanting them because they served him. (Luke 15:29.) The tragedy in this story is that neither of the man’s sons had a relationship with him because of the lies they believed, and their false perceptions. It is much the same with the present generation in and outside the church. The Father is viewed as a demanding taskmaster who loves us only because we do and say everything correctly, slaving and working for Him. Such is the enemy’s accusation, day and night, against God, to us. (Rev. 12:10.) The younger son comes to the father demanding his inheritance, which was only supposed to be given him at his father’s death. He was effectually saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead.” How this father’s heart must have been grieved and cut in two. Yet, the father let the younger son have what he wanted, and he did not try to dissuade him from leaving. It is astounding how much freedom God gives us creatures! He pours out His love and grace to us, yet still lets us throw it back in His face, grieving His heart. If someone’s mind is made up about what is truth and what is not, no argument is going to convince them…they will have to experience the truth for themselves. Many have formed wrong concepts of the Father because of experiences with human parents or other authority figures. This is why the greatest need of the moment is for spiritual mothers and fathers who are willing to pay whatever price is necessary to be examples of the Father. The father of this young man let him go. Sad to say, it’s usually in the pigpen that we all come to our senses. It was in his lowest, most desperate moment that the truth broke into his life about who his father was and what he was like. Yet, what he remembered (maybe taught in Sunday School?), was still not the full picture of what his father was like. He thought he could only get back into the graces of his father when he cleaned his life up and got back to normal. When he repented and returned, he found something completely unexpected. He found a father with tear-filled eyes that picked him up, held him in his arms, and kissed him, still covered in pig dung. The father was so brimming with delight and joy that he did not even ask the boy to clean up before he restored him to his place as a SON, not a servant, and called for a party. For the first time in his life, this younger son was truly experiencing what his father was like apart from the skewed input from other, wrongly perceiving family members. He found out, no matter how deep in sin he had gone, it was safe to come home to the father’s house.
Then, we have the elder brother. He was the source of the younger brother’s wrong perception and experience, because he, himself, had not experienced what his father was like. He kept to himself, never venturing toward his father because of this deception. He had formed an opinion of the father based on his observation through a filter clogged with lies and resentment. He assumed his father was an astute, aloof, demanding despot who only wanted him to work his farm. I can imagine the father tried many times to break into this son’s world, but was turned away because of a deranged belief system in the son’s mind. This son got very angry with his father because he did not treat his younger brother the way he thought he should have treated him. The younger son deserved judgment and castigation. In the elder brother’s estimation, the younger brother did not live up to the older brother’s standard of righteousness. Yet inside, this older brother was full of anger, self-pity and judgmentalism. Such is the state of a great portion of the church in this day.
I had an experience with the Father several years ago that eternally changed my life and my perceptions of my heavenly Father. One Sunday morning, I went out to start my car to go to the morning church service, and it would not start. When I turned the ignition, the only thing I heard was a “click.” I was not a happy camper because I had just purchased a new battery for the car the previous week. So, I pulled my wife’s vehicle out and jumped my car off so I could get to the church early and pray, as is my habit. I decided I would deal with the situation after the morning service was over. When the service was over, I went out to try to start the car, and it started right up. “Well,” I thought, “I probably need to clean the cable terminals.” We had a lunch meeting we had to attend, so I left my vehicle and drove with my wife to the meeting. When we returned, and I tried to start the car… “click!” I jumped the car off again and got the car home. We had to return in about an hour and a half for a Sunday evening small group I was leading, so my wife went to take a quick nap and I worked on the car. I got some soda water, disconnected the battery cables, cleaned everything and went over the whole electrical system. My hands, much of my face, and part of my clothes were now covered in grease and dirt, and I had several scrapes on my fingers. But, I was proud that I, the man, could fix this thing. I had conquered! When I got in the car to start it… “CLICK!” Somehow it was much louder this time. In my frustration, I spoke some very choice words over the battery, the car and the people who sold me the battery. I know that I am the only Christian who has ever experienced a momentary lapse of godliness, so I beg forgiveness from the rest of the body of Christ. Frustrated, ticked-off and dirty, I went into the house to clean up so I could get ready to go lead a small group of Christians, teaching them about Christlikeness. As I was washing my hands came the gnawing, paralyzing voice and feelings I had experienced since I was a child…condemnation, abandonment, failure and the “knowledge” that the Lord was completely disappointed in me. I felt like a condemned hypocrite as the voice assailing my mind grew more vicious by the minute. This had been with me as far back as I could remember. My heart, my mind and my whole body felt the crushing weight of condemnation, so much so it was hard to lift my head. We had to leave in a very short time to go to our small group, but how could I lead a small group after just cussing at an inanimate object? I went downstairs to our basement, fell on my knees and began to cry out to the Lord for forgiveness. I was defeated. I was a failure. I had let my Father down once again. How could He love me? I felt like He was light-years from me…there was absolutely no sense of His presence, which was the way I lived for most of my Christian life. Then, suddenly, the presence of God filled the basement. His presence was tangible. I began to weep in my brokenness. All I could say was, “I’m sorry Father,” over-and-over. The Lord then spoke to me and said, Son, there is nothing you can do to drive Me away. There is nothing you can do to keep Me from loving you. I am here, and there is nothing that can make Me leave you. I began to sob uncontrollably. I wept for fifteen or twenty minutes. That day, using my weakness, the Lord extracted a root of rejection and abandonment from my life. He poured in His love and truth, set me free and healed a “father wound” in my life that was an endless cesspool of self-hatred, anger and lust. I have never, from that day, in spite of my screw-ups, weaknesses or failures, ever doubted the Lord’s unconditional love for me. My life was changed in a five-minute encounter with a Father who came to a sin-laden, weak, broken, self-centered, impotent human that He could not keep away from because He so passionately burned with desire for him!
The Father is holy, righteous, and just and He will one day exact judgment in full retribution on this earth. But He is also infinitely full of love and mercy. He desires us with a consuming love so powerful that He would send His very heart-of-hearts, the Son, to reveal how He thinks about us and then purchase us back from the sin, corruption and hell-deserving fate to which we had all been bound. It is safe to come back to the Father’s house.
Questions for Reflection:
How has the Father revealed Himself to you?
In the story of the Prodigal Son we see two sons distorted views of the Father. Which one of the brothers more closely resembles your own misconceptions of the Father?
How has that view been changed through your relationship with the Father?