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Religious Reflections

Missing the Father

by Rev. Mike Hughes

Linda and I had our two grandchildren, Ariel, 5, and Jonah, 2, stay with us for a week in July. It was long planned for and anticipated by grandma. Grandpa just kind of let things happen -- as is usual in our marriage relationship.

We had a great time with them. However, we also learned why young children should be cared for by young parents! They really didn't even miss Mom and Dad that much until about Day 5 of our week together. Little Jonah was sitting in the highchair eating, when all of a sudden he looked at the pictures on the wall and said plaintively, "Mommeeeeee." Ariel likewise was spending a lot of time looking at the pictures we have on the walls and refrigerator, etc. The rest of the week we were trying to shift their attention from their loneliness of separation to other things, and remind them that Mommy and Daddy were coming soon.

There is a similarity with the way the children felt in missing Mommy and Daddy to the way we often feel toward God. St. Augustine wrote that God has placed a hole in our hearts that only He can fill.

Sure, we can go off on our own and have "fun and games" for a while. But no matter how we try to fill it, that "God-shaped hole" in our hearts cannot be filled with anything but God. The longing we feel for a place to belong, to be accepted, to be loved, to be valued, is a pointer to our need for a relationship with God, our Creator. He made us to have a special relationship with Him.

The best way to understand this longing, according to the Bible, is in terms of Him being our "Father." The Bible says that when we enter into that special relationship with Him that He always meant for us to have, our spirits will cry out to Him, "Abba." Abba means more than just "father." It is the personal term for father, much like we would say, "Daddy."

The message of the Bible is that God wants us close to Him.

There is the old joke about the wife who complained to her husband as they drove along in the car, "Honey, why don't we sit close to each other as we once did?"

Her husband, staring ahead with hands on the wheel said, "Well, dear, I'm not the one who moved."

God created us to be close to Him. We are the ones who moved. So He sent His Son to us, to provide the way back to Him.

Our grandchildren cried out "Mommeeee and Daddeeeee," showing their love for Mom and Dad, and their desire to be close. Just so, God wants us to be yearning for His presence. He will hear our cry and respond with His loving touch.

Oh, and by the way, when Mommy and Daddy finally arrived, there was a very joyful reunion with the grandchildren.

- Rev. Mike Hughes is pastor of the Sunnyside First Baptist Church.

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