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Saturday, January 15, 2011

A FATHER'S LOVE- A CHAPTER FROM SOON TO BE RELEASED "THE CHICKEN WHISPERER"


Jean Valjean: When you're better, I'll find work for you.
Fantine: But you don't understand, I'm a whore... and Cosette has no father.
Jean Valjean: She has the Lord. He is her father. And you're his creation. In his eyes, you have never been anything but an innocent and beautiful woman.
                                                           …from the movie Les Miserables

A FATHER’S LOVE
I
 heard a story once that talked about man who had several wild birds he cared for and fed daily.  A particularly hard winter made it difficult for the birds to find the food he would leave for them.  They would fly to the man’s back door looking for the food he had scattered on the ground but the falling snow would have covered it up.  The man noticed this and grabbed more food to give to them as they arrived but when he opened the door to scatter the bread they were frightened and flew off.  The man would quickly go back inside and the birds would slowly return but by then the food was again covered by the snow.   Sadly, the man looked out of the window at the hungry birds who he loved deeply.  And then he said to himself, “If only I could become a bird to bring them food then they wouldn’t fear me and they would live.”
    
  The radical idea of changing our nature or behavior to approach and influence a different species is called “whisperering” because of its gentle approach.  The idea of  “whisperering” an animal is to keep it calm and available for interactive training by making it feel safe through soft touch and gentle gestures.   Many animals have been successfully trained in just a few hours using this method as opposed to harsher more brutal methods.  Jesus was God’s way of whispering mankind.

     We are timid like wild horses.   Our spirits have been spooked and damaged by horrific events in our history.   Our hearts have become frail and broken from abuse and abandonment.  We now fear with a great sadness the day our great majestic Father returns.  We fear his disappointment.  We fear the absence of his love.  While we have heard He can save us, we doubt that He will want to.   We are starved for His affection, but believe it will be withheld.  Bu He comes, and He comes to us how only a loving Father could: as a Son.

    The holy night He comes the long silence is broken by the voice of an angel saying, “Do not fear, I bring you news of great joy to all people…” And then we find him, our Reedemer, weighing merely eight pounds, helpless, hungry, in our image, and into our arms comes a tiny child of promise, a child who will save us, a child who can whisper the intimate things of a loving Father to his lost children.

     Our fear of the Father is as misguided as our doubt of his sincere love for us was in the Garden, for He did not come to punish but to save.  He did not come to wage war but to bring peace.   He did not come in anger, He came in love. And in Him we are reacquainted with the heart of the Father we fear.   He does not raise his hand against us.  Instead He uses his gentle, powerful hands for healing the bleeding woman, restoring the blind man’s sight, and washing the feet of his disciples.  He does not speak harshly to us.  Instead His voice defends children, raises dead brothers, and prays for misguided soldiers.  Rather than ruling, our King humbles himself and touches the sick, befriends the sinner, and spares the prostitute.  He sits on no throne but rather upon a hill and grieves over the condition of his children.  Our Chicken Whisperer weeps, He feels, He loves, and He acts.  Before He does what He came to do He reveals a very important truth, “If you have seen me, you have seen my Father.”   And then on the cross, as the beloved only Son of God exchanges his life for ours, the heart of our Father can no longer be questioned:    He is merciful, He is faithful, He is for us.

     By openly showing him affection,  God empowered Jesus to walk in obedience through difficult circumstances and complete His plan of redemption for mankind which included becoming a man to serve as our representative; fulfilling the law by keeping every commandment as the perfect Lamb of God, and finally by dying as our substitution for the penalty of our sin.  Cherishing freedom as an attribute of genuine love, God allows man to choose, man chooses unwisely. God creates a plan to save man but not control man. God’s plan involves creating a powerful reminder that involves a penalty, and then God shocks the world by paying the penalty with the sacrifice of his own Son.  God the Father loves us through the Son.

      Although I personally felt quite loved as a child, I know there are sad cases of people who grow up in the absence of love and thus I began looking for a universal source of affirmation outside of loving parents or a loving childhood.   Jesus often talked about his Father, about how he loved his Father, and about how he knew his Father loved him.   While I  was very blessed with a hardworking father who sincerely had my best interest at heart, I know not everyone was as fortunate as me, and the idea of being affirmed by our heavenly Father is difficult to approach.   The need is to view God from the fresh perspective on his own actions, untainted by our prejudices and opinions based on both bad experiences and bad information.   The idea that God the Father loves us is equally old news as it is breaking news.  But who better to affirm us all than the one who truly knows us?  Who better to hear “I love you” from than the One who can love us most deeply?

     Feeling loved does a lot for me.  It makes me feel wanted, needed, liked, and enjoyed.  It makes me feel special, significant, valuable, and important.  It makes me feel safe, secure, protected, and partnered.   In the absence of feeling loved I would think most of us would feel unwanted, unliked, insignificant, unimportant, unsafe, insecure, and lonely… and I would think it would be very hard to love someone feeling like that.

      In the Wizard of Oz the great wizard said, “The heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”   The Chicken Whisperer believed the meaning of life was to love  God and to love others, and it starts with understanding God’s love for us.  In reading his story it was obvious that by putting this into practice he literally enabled the people around him to love others, or by making them feel wanted, important, and secure, he freed them up to risk an investment in someone else.   I guess in a way, what we risk (rejection, sorrow, loss) diminishes in light in fact that we have this reservoir, or guarantee, that we are already loved.

      Jesus said he felt loved by his father his entire life and this incredible love allowed him to take incredible risk.   He knew that no matter what happened their relationship was enough in itself to compensate for any losses.   Yet he also knew that by imitating the love of his father, he simply couldn’t lose.  He believed in love because he was loved and he knew what love felt like. 

     When he willingly died on the cross he did it as much for the joy it gave his father to see him act in obedience as he did it for the joy that it would eventually bring to us.  His love for his father was the driving force in his life.  True love works like that: your joy is measured by the joy you give the other person.   So it also gave Jesus great joy to die for you.  And now the Father and Son’s joy must be made complete.
 

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