Our Perfect Father
When you think of a father, what comes to mind? For some, a father means peace and comfort. For others, a father means someone who is strict yet forgiving. But for many, the word father brings up painful memories.
In my life, like in many, my father hasn’t chosen to live in light of the gospel. As someone grows up with that, their view of God the Father adapts to the view of the only father they know. I think that’s why I find the words of Jonathan C. Edwards (of the Gospel Coalition) so poignant. He states, “I was 25 years old before I could say the word ‘father’ while praying- how was I supposed to use a word that, for me, brought to mind everything a parent shouldn’t be?”
With an understanding of how imperfect earthly fathers can be, I want to write to you with grace and compassion about our Perfect Father. I pray it ministers to you as much as it has to me. And I pray it helps deepen your experience of sharing the gospel as you explain the unique and unrivaled love of the Father.
The Heart of the Father
In Dane Ortlund’s book titled “Gentle and Lowly,” the heart is described as the “Central animating center of all we do.” Ortlund goes on to say that our heart “defines us, directs us and drives all we do.” In summary, it’s who we are. The same is true of God; His heart reveals who He is. And His heart is fully revealed in Jesus.
Matthew 11:28-30 reads “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
In a detailed description of these verses, Ortlund states, “When Jesus tells us what animates him most deeply, what is most true of him—when he exposes the innermost recess of his being—what we find there is: gentle and lowly.”
This is the heart of the Father toward us. Never abusive or neglective, but always the gentle caretaker of our souls. Never out of reach, but always accommodating to us in the lowness of our sin to rescue us in Jesus. The heart of a perfect Father.
The Presence of the Father
A parent plays a role of unquantifiable importance in someone’s life. As such, the emotional and physical absence of a parent impacts a child in untold ways. We all have an innate longing to be sought out, known, understood, and to be told the truth. We crave vulnerability and to know the heart of the people who claim to love us the most. We crave presence.
That’s why identifying God as our Father matters so greatly. His heart for us runs so deep that even the best parent can’t compare. God is not just the father to the fatherless, he is The Perfect Father; being absent is not in God’s nature. He is present. Always.
In verse Matthew 11:30, Jesus tells us, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Dane Ortlund describes Jesus’ yoke as the “yoke of kindness” saying, “Jesus doesn’t just meet us in our place of need, he lives in our place of need; he never tires of ‘sweeping us into his tender embrace.’”
Why does it matter that God shows us his heart and makes evident His presence? Because without knowing someone’s heart, you can’t trust them. Because we can know that He is present, we can confidently seek to learn the character of God and know that it will change us.
The Perfect Peace of the Father
Isaiah 26: 3-4 states, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” In his devotional, New Morning Mercies, Paul David Tripp says, “Peace is found in trusting the person who controls all the things that you don’t understand and who knows no mystery because he has planned it all. How do you experience his peace? By keeping your mind stayed on the Lord.”
Dane Ortlund states, “Our natural intuition can only give us a God like us. The God revealed in the scripture deconstructs our intuitive predictions and startles us with one whose infinitude of perfection is matched by His infinitude of gentleness”
How do we combat what we are prone to think versus what we should be thinking? One answer is by seeking to understand God the Father. We should seek to know His heart, and be humbly open to that changing us. As believers, we need to know Him and make him known. This is something that truly is so sweet about God the Father—we can know Him—we can have a real, true, raw, compelling, just, merciful, grace-filled relationship with Him. And we have the amazing opportunity to make the gift of His Son known to those He brings into our lives.
As Thomas Goodwin stated, “Jesus is Love covered in Flesh.”
Taking each step in grace, we can learn that God as Father means this: Being fully loved by the One whose present embrace is tender, whose heart is gentle and lowly, and whose very existence we can trust. It all runs together. Rejoice in this today!
A Charge to Consider
As a believer, the reminder and realization of this should change us. The Father’s compassion towards us and grace for us runs deeper than we could ever imagine. Tripp says, “Grace means that God meets our deepest need with the greatest most transformative of gifts—he willingly give us himself.” In Christ, we have all we will ever need.
In the words of Paul David Tripp, I want to leave you with this reminder, “Today, as you’re having that conversation with yourself one more time, remind yourself of that gift, and as you do, rest in the fact that because you have been given the gifts, you are never alone and never without the resources you need.”
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