Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Father Who art in Heaven

“Oh, look and see for yourself just how great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1, Pastor's Paraphrase)

Years ago one of my first overseas preaching trips took me to England, and then across the Channel into Denmark. Our team was staying at a retreat center near the city of Zwolle, along with a few hundred locals who were attending the conference.

We were there for a full week, but I wasn’t scheduled to speak until Friday evening, which would be our final session. When the time came, I shared my testimony of being in the prison my father built. Many were noticeably moved as the Lord ministered that night.

The next morning as our team gathered at the bus to head for the airport, several people came to send us on our way with warm appreciation for our having come. One man in particular walked over to me and firmly took hold of my hand, holding it with both of his. He was an aged man, wrinkled and weathered with the years, his skin looking like soft leather. His eyes were as blue as the Dutch sky, and tearful.

“I must ask your forgiveness,” he said, looking me square in the eyes.

“Why?” I asked, genuinely perplexed.

“All this week I’ve watched you walk about the grounds, smiling and laughing without a care in the world. And I judged you in my heart. Who is this boy, I thought to myself, that he should come here to tell us how to live. I was sure that you had never known a day of sorrow in your life; born to a good family and raised in a loving home. But then last night I heard your story, and then realized how very wrong I had been.”

At this point my eyes were filled with tears; I wanted to let him know that I held nothing against him -- but he wasn’t finished.

“Then it struck me,” he said, “God has been your Father, and that explains why you are so happy. And now, I want Him to be my Father, too.” Wow.

Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt.5:16). I saw it happen on that unforgettable day in Denmark; and a thousand more days since then.

Let your light shine -- and you will see it, too!

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