What the Father is Like

Some people try to interpret dreams. I just try to survive them.

Once when I was a teenager, I dreamed I was walking carefully all alone through our dark house one night. A feeling of foreboding hung in the air. I opened a door and a ball of light with a voice speaking from the middle scared the life out of me. In my dream I was convinced it was a wolf. Takes your heart a while to beat correctly again after something like that, even if it wasn't real.

Another time I dreamed my girlfriend took a long fall into a pit of water. (This girlfriend is now my wife, just in case she's reading this and getting ready to ask "Who was she!") It must have been a 100-foot fall to the water with no way out. I knew she couldn't swim. (In case you're wondering, I did jump in and try to save her. I'm very brave in my dreams. Fortunately, I woke up before we both drowned).

I cried the time I dreamed my kids were in a runaway car and crashed head-on into an oncoming vehicle.

I heard once that if you dream you're falling and you hit the ground in your nightmare, you'll die in real life. I'm living proof that that is false. I've dreamed that too and I'm sitting here talking to you.

But I think the most vivid dream I ever had occurred a few months after my dad passed away. We've worked in Europe since 1981, mostly in Luxembourg, now in France. For years and years, dad would call us from the USA every two weeks without fail. You could set your watch on it.

One night after dad's death, I dreamed he called me on the phone. His voice was so real I almost wondered if the Lord hadn't let him call me from heaven (I know it doesn't happen). Through my tears I tried to tell him how much I missed him. It took me awhile to get over that one.

I guess it's because your father plays such an important role in your life.

That is why I'm blown away by the realization that I can call the God who created this universe "Father." God is Father eternally. Our human father/child relationship only reflects the divine relationship between the Father and his Son, Jesus. The NIV version of the Bible offers this alternate reading of Ephesians 3:15, "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth derives its name." We discover fatherhood when we see the Eternal Father's relationship with his eternal Son, Jesus.

What amazes me beyond words is that when I put my faith in Jesus Christ, God changed my heart and I joined His family. He adopted me. Every human is God's creation but we're not all God's children. You're born into the family by faith in the Lord Jesus.

In all the Old Testament, few dared call God, "Father." (There are 15 cases in the Old Testament, nearly 250 in the New Testament). Why? Because Jesus hadn't yet shed his blood for our sins. He hadn't risen again and reconciled us to his Father, who then became our Father.

Now it's logical to call him "Father" because He does all the things an earthly father does for us: He provides. He helps us mature by teaching us.

But he does more than that. I learned what a good father does by watching how my own father provided for me. But I really didn't learn what a good father feels until I had children of my own.

Then I understood! How could God love me that much?

Our second son Charles and his wife Tahyna are missionaries in Africa. They recently adopted a Kenyan baby, Joshua (the most handsome and talented baby in Africa). Listen to Charles' heart as he reflected about waiting on final approval for the adoption, "Waiting has made me live, live in the moment; enjoy the little smiles, the banana everywhere but in Josh's mouth, the cookie goatee. In the past 8 months, Tahnya and I have laughed and smiled more than in the past decade combined."

Do you think we make God our Father smile? Maybe Zephaniah in the Old Testament didn't have a complete revelation of God as Father, but he surely had a powerful revelation of the Father's heart. Listen to him talk about how God feels about his children, "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zech. 3:17).

God singing for me, like a papa humming a lullaby for his little one? One of the French versions translates the verse saying, "He'll make of you his greatest joy." Me, the greatest joy of God? Yep, because He's my Father. Yours too.

In a world where fathers are in desperate shortage, that thought kind of makes for sweet dreams, doesn't it? Except this is no dream. Our eyes are wide open. The Father's love and care for us is real.

Sweet dreams this week,