Monday, 25 June 2012
Gifts from the Father
As a sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy, my father traveled to many different countries when I was a child. His homecomings after months away were occasions of great anticipation and excitement for us, not only because we were eager to see him, but because he always brought us wonderful exotic gifts from far away places. I still have many of these treasured possessions....a Chinese music box inlaid with mother of pearl....a fragrant sandalwood fan from Japan.....a toy koala bear from Australia. My father knew how to give good gifts to his children.
In Matthew 7:9-11, Jesus contrasts earthly fathers with the heavenly Father. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
I can imagine a ripple of laughter through the crowd as Jesus uses exaggeration to illustrate his point. No earthly father would give his child a stone or snake in response to a request for food. Out of love he would give the best he had. Therefore, if an imperfect human father can give good things to his children, we can conclude that our loving heavenly Father will give marvelous gifts to us when we ask.
So what kind of gifts does God our Father give? He first gave us the best He had to give; the life of His precious son Jesus Christ, through whom we have forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus opened the door for us to have a personal relationship with His Father through the vehicle of prayer.
God’s purpose for prayer is not to hand over every request we ask for, it is to build intimacy between Himself and His children so we can become more like Him. He is eager to grant us our desires, as long as they line up with His will. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Ps. 37:4
God has the power to give us whatever we ask, but if it does not contribute to His purposes for our life or has negative consequences, He may choose not to do so. When our desire is for a deeper relationship with God and transformation into His likeness, He is eager to fulfill our request.
When my father came home from an overseas trip, I never knew what would be in his duffel bag for me, but I always knew it would be special, and often it was more than I could wish for. Likewise, in my life of faith I have often experienced the extravagant generosity of my heavenly Father, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us...” Eph. 3:20