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This Time It’s Personal
by Cara Hanson

2 Corinthians 6:18
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

When God decided to make us his children, He crossed the line. The good line, that is–the one that transformed Him from a distant Creator to an involved Father. How many of us would survive if we had to approach an untouchable mountain that was “burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm,” as the children of Israel did? Even stouthearted Moses was shaking in his biblical boots when he said, “I am trembling with fear” (Heb. 12:18-21). Nowadays people can barely survive if their cable television goes out. Yes, God knows the heart of man, and He has been truly merciful in His desire to have a relationship with us.

No one understands this relationship better than kids. Once we grow up, we have a hard time viewing ourselves as children in God’s eyes, but that is exactly how He sees us. We need to look at a real father-child bond to understand how this works.

When my husband, Dave, is at work, our children talk about him all day long. They call him at the office to tell him to hurry home because they miss him and love him so much. Grace (5) will put on a dress just because “Daddy will like it.” The boys will ask me constantly when Daddy will be home. At every creak in the house, Nate (2) will declare, “Daddy’s home!” Luke (3) won’t even get dressed in the morning, unless he’s certain that Daddy is wearing the same thing. I’ve never seen Dave wearing a shirt with a picture of a dump truck to the office, but sometimes logic is blinded by love. One thing is clear: their love, respect, and adoration for Daddy permeates our lives on a daily basis.

When Daddy comes home, everything else comes to a halt. As soon as the kids hear his car come up the driveway, they start shrieking with joy. They scream, “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” and jump into his arms when he comes up the stairs. They then impatiently interrupt one another, as they each can hardly wait to tell their father the events of the day. No matter what kind of day it has been, Dave’s heart is filled with joy as he basks in their excitement, love, and affection.

By making Himself a personal God, our heavenly Father deserves the same treatment. We should think of Him and talk about Him all day long. We should call Him at His “office” to praise Him. We ought to dress and act in a manner that will please Him. Most of all, we should eagerly jump with joy into His arms and share everything on our hearts. With God, we can say, “Daddy’s home!” every minute of the day, and it will be true.

The record of “The Prodigal Son” in the Bible is a great example of the kind of relationship that God wants to have with us. Most of us can probably relate to the younger son, who makes huge mistakes and is ashamed to face his father again. We’ve all made mistakes and been forced to eat “pigs’ slop” as a result. The prodigal son even goes so far as to believe that he no longer deserves to be his father’s son. When he returns home, his father’s response represents God’s heart toward us:

Luke 15:20-24
(20) So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
(21) “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
(22) “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
(23) Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
(24) For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

We’ve come a long way from the stormy mountain burning with fire. God wants to have the same personal relationship with us that a father has with his child. He wants to run to us, hold us, and kiss us. He wants to give us honor and celebrate with us. I know that a celebratory meal does not usually conjure up images of a fat, dead calf, but this is like the modern-day equivalent to the most expensive steakhouse in town. God will hold nothing back when it comes to honoring His children. Even the most elaborate party we could throw cannot measure up to God’s party-planning abilities. We may be proud of our karaoke and breakdancing, but check out the kind of celebration God has planned for the future…

Revelation 5:11-13
(11) Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.
(12) In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
(13) Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

Talk about “raising the roof;” now that is a party! Once we confess Jesus as our Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead, we are saved (Rom. 10:9). At that moment, some angel engraves our name on our very own personal invitation from God to the never-ending party in the eternal kingdom. There is no fear of getting bounced at the door, because God has us on his personal guest list! Just in case we need to confirm our reservation, He gives us the following verses:

1 Peter 1:3 and 4 (KJV)
(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
(4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for YOU…

This isn’t going to be like some horrible hotel experience, where we finally arrive after a long journey, only to discover an angel awkwardly explaining that they have lost our reservation!

You have probably heard the expression, “Don’t take it personally.” Well, with God you can absolutely take it personally. When Grace was four years old, she was looking out the window at a breathtaking sunset and declared, “Oh, thank you, Father, for putting PINK in the sunset just for ME!!!” As happens so often with my children, she taught me a very valuable lesson that day. We should never take it for granted that God is working daily in each of our lives to touch our hearts in a very personal and intimate way.

1 John 3:1a
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

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