Out On A Limb with: “Dad Ain’t Mad”
When I was a young boy one of the things that quickly “set me off” was to talk terrible or begrudgingly about my dad. Now I know everything about my father wasn’t perfect and some of the things said, to some extent about him, might even be true; but I still didn’t want you “talkin’ that way” about him. Being “earthly” he was as much human as spiritual, and that human part came with flaws. But don’t talk bad about him in front of me! If you do I’m going to “take you on” about it! You see I knew my dad, and I understood his heart and purpose in life. What I believed and said about my dad made a difference in how close we were and how much I put trust in him to be “my dad.”
I’m using the reference to my father to begin a conversation about hurricane Katrina and about the comments being made from many people I meet each day. You see people are talkin’ bad about Dad (the Heavenly One). Now I recognize that believers are entitled to see the Gospel in their unique way and sometimes the expressions used in our conversations aren’t meant the way they sound. Let me run an example by you. “God sent judgment on those people (New Orleans)”. Well, let’s see if that “washes” as they say. If I told people that, I would be saying “My God,” “Our Father,” sent a “mighty wind” to kill thousands of mothers and fathers, babies, the elderly, the rich, the poor, evil people and good people, believers and unbelievers. Churches were destroyed and businesses were shut down. Hospitals lost electricity; doctors were stranded from their families. Police and soldiers risked their lives to help the helpless. Homes, hotels, banks, warehouses, post offices, government facilities, dentists, physicians, pastors, children, schools, orphans, nursing homes, water facilities, sanitation facilities, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores, over 10 Christian radio stations silenced, jails, courts, cars, buses, trucks, retirees, employees, family pictures and keepsakes, all family possessions, roads: all destroyed…. The tears, the disease and the hurt multiplied by the thousands, perhaps millions of people. Raping, robbing and looting! The hours, the days, the weeks, the months of relocation. And, by hitting just east of the center of New Orleans, the “wind” took out neighbors in Mississippi and Alabama (but left the French Quarter and Bourbon Street pretty much in tact)! There is ninety thousand square miles of destruction. Perhaps as much as 120 billion dollars will be required to clean up and set up “Orleans” and the surrounding area once again. There is an economic “ripple” where everyone in this country will have an increase in their financial burdens and stress. Does that sound like our Father? Is He a God who would give a stone rather than bread?
Folks, unbelievers are listening to us! Is this the God we tell them about? Is that the same God that asks the weary, the poor, and the troubled to “come unto me”? I just can’t talk about “Dad” that way. In the earthly, we’d convict that kind of father of child abuse. Yet in the Heavenly, we paint the Father with sweeping accusations of grief and “never bat an eye.” We plant his “fingerprints” all over New Orleans and never think a thing about it.
There’s a point in time and Scripture that something unique happened. It’s identifiable with the separation of the old and the new covenant. There, a “wrath” was poured out and a righteous anger was displayed ON JESUS as he hung on the cross. The entire wrath of God was pored out on him in that one moment. Our chastisement was upon Him. A solemn oath was given when the Father accepted the blood and death of Jesus as a substitute for OUR deserved wrath. Jesus took it all for us! And even though we might deserve a terrible wrath from a Holy God, that wrath has already been spent on Jesus on our behalf! (Isaiah 54) ["…now being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Romans 5:9) "…reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the Word of Reconciliation." (2Corinthians 5:19) "…He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities". (Psalm 103:10) "…He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the Righteous in Him (2Corinthians 5:21)]
By Law, we’re all guilty. Bottom line: believers are not justified by the Law. Only through the Grace and Mercy of God can anyone stand justified. In some sense, this whole country, any one of the states, all the cities and each American deserve a “wrath” because of our actions. And, if guilty of one, we’re, by nature, guilty of all. We’re all qualified for wrath apart from the blood and resurrection of Jesus. It’s grace we receive not justice! Heaven forbid we receive for what we do! For each of us, there would be a little burned up spot right where we stand if we got what we deserved! We must remember we’re reconciled by His life not our life.
That’s not to say that what we do doesn’t matter! Sure it does. We can’t avoid or choose the consequences of our “sinning,” and there will always be consequences! In this earth, a rule has been written in the Creation: you reap what you sow! That’s the way the world works. It was God’s great Wisdom that “clued” us into the knowledge of that, forewarned us of that. I’m afraid our harvest will be great. We’ve sown rebellion and “self-righteousness” for many years now and I expect that the fields are “heavy” with that crop. But, choosing to separate ourselves from Him doesn’t bring His wrath. Sin brings forth “death” (barrenness) as a consequence for those actions. We live in “calamity” when we choose against Him rather than for Him. Loving the Darkness brings it’s own judgment. The Father, in His Love, has tried to share that wisdom with us from the beginning of His Creation.
I understand I’m not right about everything I believe concerning the Gospel. And, if I’m wrong somewhere, then perhaps I’m wrong about this. But, I will enter into the Father’s arms declaring His great Love and Grace and not His Wrath. He so loved that He gave, and He gave while we were still in our sins! He gave in a time of our un-righteousness!
According to Scripture, a double-minded man should expect nothing. I’ve made up my mind about the Father. He’s trying to find a way to deliver people in New Orleans rather than trying to find a way to create the scene I listed earlier in this letter. Where’s God’s Glory in the pictures we’ve been seeing? I can’t say those things about my Dad and I object to painting a picture of Him like that to unbelievers. God is good and no evil dwells in Him. According to 1Corinthians 13, God is Love and Love is defined as not thinking evil and not returning evil for evil. If God “hurricaned” New Orleans, then we should embrace it. We should shout for Joy about it. We should ask God to send more. We should not build up what He has torn down. If we can’t do those things, then lets not blame Him for those things. In this world there is trouble, but He came for this reason: that we might overcome the world! He’s delivering Hope and Love and offering deliverance. For God is Good! Period! He is a God of Mercy not Misery.
I greatly benefited from my “knowing” my dad’s heart. I knew how he thought and trusted what he did for his family. My perspective of him, how I viewed him, made a huge difference in the intimacy I experienced with him. Because I knew he cared about me, loved me, worked hard to provide a place for me, I “understood” him and never doubted that he would only do the best for me. When things happened to me that were troublesome, I never had to try and figure out if they were from him or not; I knew they were not from him.
I’m never suspicious of the bad things we see being from God. I won’t say that about Him because I really believe “Dad ain’t mad”! He is well pleased with Christ and I am in Christ. “Peace on Earth and Good Will toward all men,” signed The Father.