1 John 3:1a ESV
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
What kind of Love is this?
1 Corinthians 13:1-8a tells us the Way of Love
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.” and it goes on to the last verse saying, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
I am writing, only because God gave me a story to share, to glorify His name.
I am the first generation Christian in my family and only accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was seventeen. I grew up angry, not trusting and unforgiving. I am left with very vague memories of my childhood except for the bad ones. At the age of five, I witnessed betrayal from my biological dad who womanised right in front of my eyes. I experienced a suicidal mum, who suffered a great deal of pain in her broken marriage, and after a few years of turmoil, struggled her way through to raise up my brother and I, almost single-handedly. I remember hating my biological dad to the core and didn’t really have much of a good relationship with my mum because she was too busy trying to settle her own challenges in life besides having to make ends meet. My brother and I were left in the care of grandparents and relatives most of the time. Thank God that both my brother and I grew up “well” in the context of the world or at least, none of us had murdered anyone and jailed or something.
It was God’s grace and mercy that His favor was upon my family and me. We didn’t know God but for some good reasons, my brother and I were brought to Sunday School by our Elementary School teacher. I was actually there, more to learn how to speak proper English. We attended church for only less than a year. Life went on, without God, I grew up from an angry child to a rebellious teenager. I am very strong-willed and have a very quick and bad-temper. There were so many times, if not for God’s divine appointment, I could have gone down a very different path, a path of no return from darkness. God’s hand of protection has always been with me, even when I know not. I had all the freedom to do whatever I liked as a teenager but God would send the right friends to influence me in a way that eventually leads to Him. I started attending church again because of my brother. I became involved with a very different kind of people who looked just the same like everyone else but carried a certain kind of “life”. I was drawn to Christ and the church but was soon consumed with pursues in life by the standards of the world. From a rebellious teenager to a young woman who sought after financial freedom and recognition in life, I started my career in sales right after my tertiary education in Polytechnic although I was trained in accounting. I wanted to be successful by the world’s standard so as to spite at the negative comments thrown at my broken family and me. I did pretty well in sales and marketing, and pretty much enjoyed the lifestyle that power of money brought. I got to know a lot of people, made many connections and started doing business. I got into relationships not having marriage in mind but to fill a void in my heart. I hurt people and was hurt, very badly. The first decade of my Christian walk with God was terrible. I had a hard time trying to reconcile the harshness and injustice in my life with the supposed goodness of God. I had a lot of grievances and unforgiveness. I put the blame on my father’s betrayal, my parent’s divorce, their remarriages, their failure as parents… I put the blame on everything and everyone else except for me. I thought I had all the good reasons to remain angry because I was a victim of other people’s mistakes. I didn’t know what it meant to trust, I didn’t know what it meant to trust God. I believe there is a God but God was just a Being I know as an Almighty King, faraway from my realities.
Things went from bad to worse, I was torn and tattered emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Instead of being at the peak in my mid-twenties, like my peers, I was in a ruin—broken relationships, incurred huge financial debts from bad business and relational decisions made and no relevant work experiences and qualification to be competitive in the work-force. I finally collapsed. I wanted to end all the misery and end my miserable life even when I knew there is a God. I was very angry that I had tried so hard but failed. I felt as if I was trapped in a very dark tunnel, with a very faint hope that light could be at the end if I could just persevere and move on. I tried and tried harder but it was all in vain because I was only relying on my own strength. I did not embrace God as our Father, neither did I allow the Father’s love to embrace me. I behaved like an orphan.
Galatians 3:23-29 (ESV) states “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
2 Corinthians 6:18 (ESV) says “and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
And Hebrews 2:13 says “And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”” So many times in the bible, scriptures confirmed and reconfirmed that our identity in Christ is of His Sonship to God.
The Bible states that all people are God’s creation (Colossians 1:16), and that God loves the entire world (John 3:16), but only those who are born again are children of God (John 1:12; 11:52; Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:1-10).
We become God’s children when we are saved because we are adopted into God’s family through our relationship with Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:5-6; Ephesians 1:5). We can refer to verses like Romans 8:14-17: “…because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Those who are saved are children “of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26) because God has “predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5).
Looking back, regardless of my ignorance to God’s presence, He so graciously placed the right people and right friends, at the right time, to provide me guidance and companion throughout my seemingly-very-alone life that was constantly plagued by an orphan spirit, fighting for my rights and yearning for acceptance. The seed was sowed, He continued to send laborers to water and allowed growth. God is not only the Almighty King, but the Loving Father, our Abba Father.
I was nearly given up, by myself. It was so painful that I was at the brink of losing myself to darkness. I was suffering with insomnia and severe weight-loss with no appetite for any food and drinks. I cried more than enough till there was no more tears. I was disinterested in everything else, locked myself in my room and just laid in bed for days. I thought I was going to die and I was about to pop more sleeping pills to end the misery. Then I heard a still small voice, He called me, “My precious daughter.” I recognized that voice. I remembered then what it was like to be a child knowing that the Father will always be the one to back me up. I recalled the one time my biological father was a hero to me when I was in elementary school. I was very upset to be teased by a bully in my class. I went home and cried. My father went to the school the following day and scolded the boy. I knew I was protected from harm. I found security, for that moment, in my biological father. I was touched by the still small voice and I broke into tears once again. Not tears of despair but of joy and hope. God, the Almighty King of kings & Lord of lords, called me His own. I am a child of God. I am not an orphan. He called me out of darkness and I walked out of darkness, spiritually and literally. The situations did not change for better but I was changed. The financial debts did not disappear and I was still where I was, wounded and scarred. However, I was able to face my challenges with the courage as a child of God, with my Abba Father backing me up.
God gave me an opportunity to restart my life from the bottom as a junior accounts executive when my peers were already some qualified accountants. God so divinely placed the right people in my life in His timing to guide and lead me and gave me many opportunities to excel in my work and build my character in Christ for His glory. I was given some form of a sponsorship for my university studies while trying to manage a full-time accounting job and to pay off the debts incurred. My Abba Father protected and provided me way and beyond.
Where do we find this kind of Love?
John 3:16 & 17 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
God gave His Son so we (the whoever) believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life, a life with love that never ends.
Such is the love of our Father to us. He gave life, allowed death upon His Son and raised Him up that death no longer is a stronghold for those who believe in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Life is not as pretty as I would love to have, even right now where I am speaking, but I am blessed because of our Father’s love.
Our life on this earth of sixty, eighty or even hundred years… is incomparable to what we are created for—Eternity. We are not created as orphans but as children of God. Some of us may have been suffering a great deal from the harsh realities in life, challenges and issues that seem so huge that we are suffocated in pain, injustice, disappointments, victims of other people’s crimes or mistakes and more. The good news is, our God is bigger than our mountains.
“…the reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1b).
We often come to God to ask for things. There is nothing wrong with it. It is true that He is the Healer, the Provider, the Comforter, He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the One to go to in times of trouble. However, above all, He is our Abba Father who yearns for a relationship with us more than just being there to hear and give in to our needs and wants.
I will end this time with yet another story. Just around three years ago, I had an opportunity to meet up with my biological father and we arranged to have dinner. In fact, it was an impossible task for me. I freaked out when I heard a prompting from the Holy Spirit and almost wanted to rebuke the devil to “Get thee behind me!” The last I saw him was a decade ago. I was trying to negotiate with God that it wasn’t necessary because I had forgiven him and probably just good to forget him as well. I didn’t know what to do and was worried for nights, planning on what to say and what I could do when it got awkward. God so loved me that it was a divine appointment, not just for me to meet my biological father but to enjoy being with the Abba Father. It was an amazing date I had with my Abba Father. Abba Father’s presence was with me through my biological father. It was not as awkward and difficult as I thought it would be. It was simply time we had together, to have a meal and a chat. Our Abba Father yearns to be with us. There was no need to feel like mountains were moving and seas were roaring but it was more than enough, His presence was more than enough, being in the presence of our Abba father, was and is more than enough.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalms 34:8)
Come to the Father
Though your gift is small
Broken hearts, broken lives
He will take them all
The power of the Word
The power of His blood
Everything was done
So you would come
(Lyrics: Chorus from song, So You Would Come, by Hillsong United )
(Featured image: San Miguel, Tacloban city, Philippines; June 2017)
His beautiful & relentless love makes a soul relentlessly beautiful.