Good, Good Father

pray_13394bc

Matthew 7:7–11 (NLT)
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
This is the second teaching on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount (ch. 5-7).  In ch. 6:5-15, we have the Lord’s Prayer.  The teaching in ch. 6 is primarily about avoiding showiness in prayer, but rather taking the posture of humility (Matt. 6:5-6), and about the content of prayer (vv. 6-15).
v. 7 suggests persistence in prayer:  asking, seeking, and knocking.  To ask naturally indicates prayer, but seek and knock are verbs which are metaphors for prayer. Ask indicates coming to God with humility and consciousness of need, as a child comes to their father.  Seek links one’s prayer with pursuing after God and the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33).  Knocking reminds me of the passage in Rev., where Jesus says that He is the one who is knocking, seeking entry into our hearts.  (Rev. 3:20)  The triple word play here suggests the intensity ad persistence with which we are to pray.
But v. 8 is a promise.  Everyone who asks receives and everyone who seeks finds and to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  Our God is not like a negligent parent, but rather like a good parent.
I worked in a maximum custody prison for many years.  Even these hardened criminals would often be very loving and kind toward their children.  They would write letters to them, call them on the phone, hug them and hold them on visiting days, and try to maintain good relations with them to the best of their ability.  Even evil people will not be cruel to their own children.  How much more will our heavenly Father, who is a good, good Father, be good to His children?  God’s desire for HIs children is for the best.  We need to be assured in our hearts of this.
This picture of God as a good, good Father contradicts the view that many of us have of God.  Those of us who grew up with an abusive parent struggle to see God the Father as loving and kind.  Instead, we see Him as harsh and cruel.  Yet, God desires us to know that He loves us, and desires the best for us.  The knowledge of God’s essential goodness underlies Jesus’ teaching on prayer.  And we have this knowledge also:  We are privileged to call God, “Daddy!” or “Papa.”  That is the sense of the address in the Lord’s Prayer.
Chris Tomlin sings a song I love entitled “Good, Good Father.”  The song, written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown, finds its roots in Tony’s story of growing up without a dad. The only person he’s ever called father, in his life, is God.
The same was true for me.  I grew up in a home with an abusive man.  My mother had gotten into a relationship with this man who abused us sexually, physically, and mentally.  I was abused from age 5 to 13.  After his death in 1975, my grandfather who I love deeply also died.  I felt lost and alone.  I was in the attic of our house considering suicide.  As I sat there in the dark crying because I had never known the love of a father, I heard God speaking to me out of the darkness, “I will be the Father you never knew.”  In that moment, I felt the love of God the Father flood my soul.
Good, Good Father
I’ve heard a thousand stories
of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone.
You’re a good, good Father,
It’s who You are.  It’s who You are.  It’s who You are.
And I’m loved by Yopu
It’s who I am.  It’s who I am.  It’s who I am.
Thank you, Lord, for being our good, good Father.  You promise to never leave us or forsake us.  You promise that you love us and will give us good gifts.  Even so, Father, give us the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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