Barkings June 2012

Barkings From Your German Shepherd ....

My gritted teeth gave me a headache…  as I stood in the sand lot looking at a few of my tools weathering in the Wisconsin elements! A shovel, a hammer, a crowbar, a hoe… left outside by my young son and the neighbor boys… left for the wooden handles to bleach in the sun and the metal parts to rust in the rain.  “Wait until I get my hands on him…” I growled through gritted teeth!  I gathered the tools and carried them to the garage.  It was not a long distance to walk but it turned out to be a very insightful walk.  You see, while carrying the imple- ments, I noticed the price tags still attached to the handles of the shovel and the hammer.  My anger subsided… now turning to musing.  I had purchased those items several years before at a hardware store in Thief River Falls, Minnesota.  Several years, indeed… like about seven!  And I hadn’t even used them enough to wear off the price tags!  My son and his cohorts were using those tools far more than me just by making a fort in the sand. I put the tools away in their proper places.  But I had to act like a father and not like a master!  So I decided to shake my finger at him with stern words about the proper stewardship of tools… especially MY TOOLS!  He and his buddies would be allowed to use them, if they would put the tools back in the garage.  For some reason, that approach sounded to me more father-like… more God-like!

God is our Father. Have you ever wondered why God chose to pattern Himself after the earthly example of a father?  He did okay when He likened Himself to a shepherd tending the sheep, or an eagle lifting us above life’s problems, or a hen protecting us under the cover of her wing.  But a father?!?!?!?   That’s too close to home! And yet, that is exactly where Jesus directs us in The Lord’s Prayer.  Pray like this,” He said, “Our Father Who art in heaven…”  Father?!? Does that mean God spends most of His time at work, instead of at home? Or does it mean that He is never satisfied with what we do, and grits His teeth or growls at us much of the time?  Or could it mean that when we need His help or counsel, He responds to us with a stern glare and an irritable word? Or does it mean that He makes a lot of promises, but never keeps them because bigger and more important things arise?  A teacher at a Lutheran elementary school in a tough inner city area of Chicago told of a little girl in his class who refused to pray The Lord’s Prayer.  After much patient inquiry he was told by the student that if God, the heavenly Father, was anything like her father, she wanted nothing to do with Him!

Our Father in Heaven is not like us.  Thank God, our Father, He is not like us!  God does not pattern Him- self after earthly fathers. Instead, He wants earthly fathers to pattern themselves after Him!   Our heavenly Father loves us more than we can comprehend.  He demonstrated this so fully by sending His only-begotten Son, Jesus, to save us from sin and everlasting death. Our heavenly Father hears us.  Every prayer from our heart is heard and answered by Him, without exception.  Our heavenly Father yearns for us.  When we wander away, He watches for us, and runs to meet us with His loving embrace of grace.  Our heavenly Father protects us.  He invites us to cast our cares on Him, for He lovingly cares for us and shelters us from all enemies, especially the devil and the evil he brings to infect and affect our life.

Father’s Day is June 17th. With Father’s Day quickly approaching, let us take some time to consider how God chooses to work even through frail and sinful earthly fathers to accomplish His purposes. My father was not per- fect, nor am I as a father. But God does not command fathers… or mothers… to be perfect – perfection is His terri- tory! He calls us to be faithful to Him and His Word, so that through our example of faithfulness and love, our chil- dren will see and learn of our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness and love in Christ.

With Joy in Jesus,  Pastor Barrie Henke