by Becky Ritchey
Since we’re blogging about ‘fathers’ this month, I had planned to devote this post to my earthly father. Then today, as I was reading and reflecting, God showed up [so to speak] and changed my mind. As a result, I’m writing about my Everlasting Father.
May I get a little ‘spiritual’ here? Over the years, I’ve kept journals of my musings and prayers during my devotional time with God. I haven’t been a consistent journal writer, but I’ve found that when I make the effort it helps me sort through the tangle of thoughts and emotions that is me. Sometimes I’ve felt prompted to write down letters to myself from God when I’ve sensed He’s had specific words of encouragement for me. Today was one of those rare times. It happened as I was reading A.W. Tozer’s classic, The Pursuit of God, for a summer small group in my church. I joined the group to get to know people . . . and to get close to God again.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know I’ve had a rough year. I’m in a good place now, enjoying an outpouring of God’s blessings – but I’ve come to realize that the traumas I experienced have left me a bit battle scarred spiritually. I believe the Bible is God’s unshakeable word so I accept the truth of His discipline and divine providence; however, walking out the reality in my life has been very painful. When Steve lost his job last year the day after Mom died, I cried out to God, “You’re asking too much this time!” The process of moving, selling the house, and settling into a new place has taken a toll on me. Now that the dust has settled, I’m aware that something is missing. A void between me and God has become more perceptible. God hasn’t left me; no, it’s me who’s crawled away into a cave like an injured animal licking its wounds.
Presently, I feel like my efforts to seek God are meager (He gives me a feast; I give Him crumbs). Once upon a time, I was an ardent devotion-keeper. Unfortunately, I’ve let life get in the way and now I’m fighting to regain ground. I don’t understand the mystery of ‘hearing His voice’, but there have been times in my life when I’ve heard Him pretty clearly. Over the past few days I’ve felt like He’s asking me a question: “Are we okay?”
It’s like when you have an issue with someone you love and things aren’t right between you so you keep your distance. Then something happens to jolt your emotions and break down the barriers. Suddenly, you find yourselves embracing as you hear the humble words, “Are we okay?” You laugh, sobbing with relief. In an instant, all is forgiven and you’re reconciled. Now, imagine that: God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, meekly asking a worm like me, “Are we okay?” The still small voice is starting to get through to me in my cave.
These words by A.W. Tozer prompted that ‘divine letter’ today:
“We have almost forgotten that God is a Person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can . . . . Full knowledge of one personality by another cannot be achieved in one encounter. It is only after long and loving mental intercourse that the full possibilities of both can be explored.”*
In the margins of the book, I scribbled: Am I willing to commit my time to go deeper into Him? Tears welled up. Feeling moved, I took up my journal and wrote:
You think it’s correction and discipline that I’m after. You think that is my highest purpose for our relationship. No, it is not. My highest purpose and my deepest desire is fellowship with you. That has always been, and always will be, my number 1 priority for you. That’s why I sent my Son to die for you, so that I can draw you close to me. Will you take the time, now that we have a history together and the road has been rocky at times? Will you continue on with me to finish as we started, in glory?
Jesus said that it’s the Everlasting Father who first gives people the urge to follow Him (John 6:44). This divine initiative is explained beautifully by Tozer:
“The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand.”**[emphasis mine]
Wow! The Everlasting Father always – still – wants me!
Yes, Father, we’ll be okay.
* p. 23, The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, Bethany House edition, 2014
**p. 22, Tozer