December 12, Sunday

NEW Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI who had served as a staff at several AMI churches.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Good Good Father” 

Matt 6:5-15

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

My parents divorced when I was about three-year-old.  During the early part of my childhood, I lived with my mother, but in my middle school and high school years, I went under the care of my father.  I phrase it this way because for most of this time, I didn’t actually live with my dad; you see, my father funded my existence, which is an odd way of saying he paid for me, my brother, and grandmother to live in one place, while he and his wife, my stepmother, lived in an entirely separate place.  I would estimate that the sum total of time I physically shared a roof with my father was about five years, three of which were the first three years of my life.  

As a result of this estranged upbringing, two things happened.  First, I took it upon myself to figure most things out and only bothered my dad for stuff I couldn’t handle.  For example, it took me several months of fighting through deteriorating vision until I asked my dad to take me to get glasses.  Second and more sadly, to this day, my father and I aren’t very close.  Don’t get me wrong—I don’t feel any animosity toward him, but truth be told, I can’t say that I feel tenderhearted toward him either.  Nowadays we’ll talk on the phone a few times a year, and I’ll stop in to say, “Hi” when I’m passing through my old town, but I can’t say that he is a major part of my life.  

I share about my relationship with my biological father because this image of a close, intimate Heavenly Father that Jesus knew so well in today’s passage has always been a little abstract for me.  Look, I’m seminary trained, so I can give you dozens of theological terms and Bible verses explaining that through Christ, God is near, but I must admit that sometimes these truths don’t impact my daily life as they should.  Take prayer for example, my natural inclination is to go to God for big stuff like if someone is sick or war in the Middle East, but when it comes to little, normal, day-to-day type things, I often operate as if it’s my job to figure it out, and God need not be bothered with the small details of my life.   

But this is not the picture of God the Father that Jesus gave in our passage today, is it?  In verse 7, Jesus tells us that God will meet us in secret (think intimate) places and will reward us for seeking him in prayer.  In verse 8, he says that God already knows what we need, so he knows our innermost thoughts.  In the actual Lord’s Prayer, yes there are big topics like God’s Kingdom coming, but then Jesus prayed for things like “daily bread” or provisions, forgiveness of sins, restored relationships, and deliverance from temptation, etc.  In the grand scheme of things, why does it matter if my next-door neighbor and I are on speaking terms or if I resist the temptation to yell at my kids unjustly?  What about really important things like world peace, or starving children, or exploited people?  How come Jesus didn’t address these issues in “The Lord’s Prayer?”  Of course, God cares about these things, but perhaps what Jesus was showing us is that God isn’t “too big” for the day-to-day events and troubles of his children.  

What is your view of the Heavenly Father?  Maybe you’re like me, and your view of the Heavenly Father was shaped by your earthly father (for good or bad).  Maybe you can believe that God loves the world (John 3:16), but you have trouble understanding that he loves you individually.  Hopefully, you can understand that our Heavenly Father is big enough to spin the universe in his hand and yet small enough to remember little things like your eyeglass prescription.  

Prayer: Dear God, thank You for being a caring and loving Father to me.  Thank You that my problems aren’t too small for You to take notice.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Romans 8

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