I was visiting recently with a man who had been in a very serious automobile accident and I asked him to tell me about it.
The man said a semi truck hit him, and his car was totaled. However, he came out of the accident without any serious injuries at all. He concluded his story by saying, “There must have been some higher power watching over me.”
I wish I had asked him what he meant by a higher power. I’m sure he would have said, “Well, I am not an atheist or an agnostic, but I also don’t go to church very often. I’m not sure you can bring God down to our human level. So I think that a higher power, whatever that means, can somehow protect us in a given situation. And that is how I describe coming out of that automobile accident with no serious injuries.”
As I left, I wondered how a person prays to an impersonal God. When someone has something on his mind, how do they pray? Do they say, for example, “O thou great higher power, protect our son or daughter who is fighting in Afghanistan”? This prayer does not show any meaningful relationship. Holy Scriptures never refer to God in this way; he is always considered personal.
Although our heavenly Father is a higher power, he is far more than that. God wants to have a really personal relationship with us. If you have come from a home filled with love, the term father, mother, parent takes on a really personal relationship with you. The text is more meaningful if we have had these kinds of parents.
When I look back over my life, I see how my father and mother were very personal in their relationship with me. They cared for me. I was a big part of their life. They sacrificed for me. My father worked in a paper mill; he never made a lot of money. Sometimes it was nip and tuck, especially during the days of the Depression. However, we always had good food on the table, presentable clothing, and sometimes a luxury.
I recall when I was growing up, I wanted to play the trumpet in the junior high band, but we did not have the money. During that time, my father received some money from World War I. The question was whether he should buy a much-needed suit for church or buy me a second-hand trumpet? He chose to forsake himself and give me a trumpet so that I might play in the band.
The same thing took place when it was time to go on to college. The folks sacrificed and sent money to me regularly. I was also expected to get a job while I went to school, but nonetheless, my parents were very anxious that I have an education.
At times during my young life, the task before me was more than I could take. During times like these, my father and mother would intervene with their strength and help so the particular problem could be solved.
For example, two brothers liked to beat up on me, no matter how nice I was to them. So one day, when I came home with a black eye, my father said, “Enough is enough,” and off we went to visit with the parents of those two boys. “We could not permit this any longer,” my father told them. What I was not able to stop, he did. That was my father, with my mother equally supportive in everything.
When you come from a home like that, you have some understanding of what our text says. God wants to be our Heavenly Father; we are his sons. He wants to live in a very close relationship with us. So close, for example, that he speaks to us regularly at any given moment.
Today’s text tells us that God is our Heavenly Father. He is far greater than any earthly father we could have, for he gave us his Son to suffer and die for the sins of the world. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Notice: God loves the world! His believers were to go into the far corners of this world telling the people that God loves them so much (as their heavenly Father) that he has given his Son. Now this is not an impersonal, but a personal relationship with God.
When Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross of Calvary, he had all the sins of the world upon him. He came to redeem us, to win us back, and to make us his, for now our sins have been taken away, and we have the full rights of a son. That is not the action of some higher power. It is a God who walks with us under all conditions.
Let’s take a look at some passages that we often mention.
“Cast all of your cares upon me; I really care for you” (I Peter 5:7).
“Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43) Ð words of forgiveness spoken while on the cross to a robber who evidently had done something bad.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-4).
Scripture makes it very clear that God wants a personal relationship with us, doesn’t it?
Last evening I listened to an interview with an actor. The man conducting the interview asked him, “Can you tell me what you believe about God?”
The actor replied, “I am my own God.” When asked if he believed in eternity, the actor didn’t have much to say, for to him, eternity is all such a mystery. This man, with multimillion dollars and great prestige, is living with the opinion that he can know nothing about heaven until that day that comes. Then he will understand, but it will be too late, for God calls us while we are right here now.
Jesus told us to follow him. The Holy Spirit will press the Lord Jesus into our hearts and go with us all the way. You cannot do it, but the Holy Spirit can. That is what we need to realize today.
Isn’t it a terrible thing to go through life believing the greatest strength you can surround yourself with, as far as this world is concerned, is another person? We thank God for these people who are of great comfort and security to us. Yet, how sad to have no divine power, no heavenly father who says, “Yea though you go through the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil for I am with you.”
So, if someday someone has to say to you or to your loved one, “It doesn’t look good. You have a malignancy, and it’s inoperable. You have six months,” remember that you have a personal God, a Father who is standing right there with you in the doctor’s office, a Father who will stand by your bedside when you draw your last breath.
Friends, don’t become a prey to those who say they don’t know, when it is so clearly written that God has left us a witness. He does not want us thinking we must run the show ourselves. Instead, he wants us to know we are dependant on him, and no one under heaven can give us that security except Jesus Christ himself.
Listen again, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law (what for?) to redeem those under law that we might receive the full rights of sons.” We are his sons.
As a father comes to his son, and a son to his father, so it is in our relationship with God. When life is too much for us, and we can’t stand it any longer, we go to him and hear him say, “I am with you always.” That is why the Psalmist could say, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). He is our help in every situation.
So it comes down to this: The Almighty God wants to live in you. The Holy Spirit will plant him in your being. He will be your supreme being. You have a choice: Do you want to live in a daily relationship with Jesus Christ, or are you at best only willing to call upon some higher power that will do you no good? Only when you know him as your Savior will you have the peace that passes all understanding.