Joseph wasn’t much good at letters. He couldn’t seem to find the words. They were like tiny fish that easily slipped through his fingers, try as he might to catch them. Even so, he had determined to put aside this evening for writing. He had bought thick, creamy paper and a new ink pen from Mrs Harbour’s shop that always smelled of the business of scribbling things down. Comforting, even though he didn’t really understand it all.
There he sat at the little carved oak table he had drawn up for warmth beside the evening’s carefully made fire. He scratched his head, scratched words down with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.
"My precious child’ he started, ‘how I love you."
How priceless is a letter like this written by a Father to a much-loved child? How tender to write, how beautiful to receive? But what if that letter - so long thought over and carefully written - had been sent back unopened, with a stark red stamp in hard and fast type.
Return to sender.
What if that love was unwanted? Even if it was the most-tender love there ever was, or ever could be?
In this 24/7 world of ours, it takes no effort to distract ourselves with the newest available or latest must-have. So much so that we can miss things which take time to receive and have eternal value. We can choose to sedate ourselves with the TV show we never miss, or the latest gadget. Fast food, fast life, instant anything and everything. We can create an orchestra of busyness so loud that it becomes impossible to hear the love song playing gently underneath, bidding us come.
Does any child turn to a loving Father and say, I have no need of you? I’m not talking about an abusive, violent parent, or the kind that is never impressed. I’m talking about the Jesus kind of Father.
“Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:8-10, NIV
Often, we find it easier to put our Heavenly Father in a box marked Special Occasions. Or to fence Him into a castle of our own making. Before long we may have taken the place of the Creator and called it our own. And who or what do we worship then?
Sin is believing the lie that we are self-created, self-dependent and self-sustained.” St. Augustine
If we are self-created – we make our own rules, we make our own Heaven and our own Hell. We obey no voice but our own.
If we are self-dependant – than all we need is self-help. We are invincible, a fortified castle or a steel fortress.
If we are self-sustained – we keep it all together. We are the centre of it all, we decide how to nurture, comfort and heal ourselves.
But we are not. We are created, dependant and in need. We are the precious children of a Heavenly Father who loves us from here to eternity, who loves us so much that He sacrificed His beloved Son for us. So that we who were far off, we could be returned to sender - to the heart of the Father.
How to express this? How to tune our restless hearts so that we can hear the Father’s love song above the insistent rumble of our daily lives? This is the best prayer I have ever found, and it starts like this -
Our Father in Heaven (I am Your child and You love me)
Holy is Your name (whatever darkness is here, You are the Light)
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done,
On Earth as it is in Heaven (let my reality be filled with Your presence and Your guidance)
Gives us today our daily bread (all that we need to sustain us through this time)
And forgive us our sins (everything that stands between You and us)
As we forgive those who sin against us (we have been wounded, we may not be able to forgive unless You help us)
Lead us not into temptation (do not let darkness consume us)
Deliver us from evil (all those plans or actions that would seek our harm)
For YOURS is the Kingdom,
The Power and the Glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen (You are the Beginning and the End, You know my every breath, You are the Most High and my life are safe in Your hands. So be it as You will it to be, I trust You)
When you can’t seem to find the words, these always sing. A song of true worship from the heart of much-loved child to a trusted Father.
He believes in you.