Lessons in Experiencing the Father
Learning to recognize and appreciate God’s unique expression of love for us.
Of all the messages that we teach and try to live out in this Toronto renewal movement, the revelation of God as a loving Father has been the one that has really captured my heart. You see, I grew up in a very performance-driven home. For one thing, education was gold in my family and your value was based on the level of education you had accomplished. Because I did not do so well in school, I grew up with an acute sense of inadequacy. I believed that I was only as valuable as the work that I could produce. Since I was not good at producing, I was not going to be valued. It did not help matters that my eldest brother had two PhD degrees by the time he was 27… Why can’t you be like your brother?!
However, when I came to the Airport church and began sitting under the revelatory teaching of the Father-heart of God, those lies began to lose their grip on me. Slowly but surely my heart began to believe that my value was not based on what I could or could not do. Under the anointing of Holy Spirit, my heart began to open up to the truth that the Father loved me in the same way, and to the same degree, that He loved Jesus. The sense of inadequacy, fearfulness and performance-anxiety began to be replaced by self-acceptance, confidence in who I am in Him, and peace. It’s not done yet; it’s an ongoing transformational process that still continues.
THE FATHER’S LOVE IS LIKE AN INTRAVENOUS DRIP
Over the years, I have listened to and loved several Father-heart ministers. Jack Frost was one of them. Jack received a dramatic, emotional encounter when he first experienced the Father’s love and he was able to articulate that encounter quite graphically. I have not had such a dramatic encounter with Holy Spirit and this used to be an obstacle for me because I thought that I was missing out on experiencing the Father’s love to the extent that other people like Jack had. That misconception changed significantly when my wife and I attended the three week Leaders School of Ministry in Toronto.
“We miss the affection which motivates God to demonstrate His power.”
At the start of the school, our small group leader asked each one of us what our expectations were for the school. I began to tell the group that I was expecting God to give me a “Jack Frost encounter” with His love. I was ready for all the tears, nasal mucus, repentance, forgiveness, and whatever else was necessary to encounter the Father’s love. While I was saying this to the group, I got a vision of me lying on a hospital bed attached to an IV drip. I turned my head to look up at the IV and I saw that the label on the bag was, “The Father’s Love.” Right away I knew that the Father was saying to me that He had been dripping His love into me over the course of time. While I was waiting for a “big” encounter, He had been giving me a multitude of “mini” encounters with His love. Every time I chose to believe His word about me, or soaked or quieted myself before Him, He was dripping His love into my spirit. It was His prerogative as God to decide how He was going to minister His love to me. He dealt with Jack Frost in one way and with me in another.
I share this testimony because I know there are many who feel that they have not had any meaningful connection with the Father’s love because they have not had any dramatic encounters with God in this regard. As a result, they have become quietly disenchanted with this notion of experiencing the Father’s love. God, however, is a good Father and He is more than willing to bless us with good gifts, like the revelation of His fatherly care for us (see Luke 10:9-11). We simply need to believe Him and to give Him time and space to minister to us. This is one of the reasons we continue to emphasize soaking and seeking His presence.
AN INTERPRETATIVE GRID FOR THE FATHER’S LOVE
Another way that some people miss the experience of the Father’s love in their lives is when they don’t interpret the activity of Holy Spirit as the Father’s love. God, by definition, is love. Everything He does, therefore, is motivated by love. We sometimes miss the connection so we may go to a healing meeting, for example, and see extraordinary healings taking place. We come away from the meeting, turn to our buddy and say, “Wasn’t that a powerful meeting!” However, from the Father’s perspective He is thinking, “I was just loving on my kids!” We end up missing the affection which motivated God to demonstrate His power.
“The Father was letting me feel His beautiful affection for me.”
When I first gave my life to Jesus at the age of fourteen, for the first few weeks there was an overwhelmingly joyful sensation in my chest. Some days, I would skip a ride home with my Dad just so that I could walk home for four miles in the hot tropical sun. I wanted to spend time alone so that I could enjoy this warm feeling in my heart. At the time, I didn’t think much of it beyond a pleasant sensation, which somehow had to do with Jesus. Looking back now, with Holy Spirit’s help, I see that experience through the lens of the Father’s love and I now understand that the Father was letting me feel His beautiful affection for me. I wish that I had understood this then; I would have valued it more. (My emotions are touched with His affection even as I write this.)
In our journey to the heart of the Father, many of us have had deep encounters with the Father’s love but we have not, in those moments, understood them to be so. As a result, we may have missed out on a healing of the heart that a proper interpretation could have brought. I would encourage you to ask Holy Spirit to take you back to moments and encounters you have had with the love of the Father but which you did not interpret correctly at the time. I guarantee your appreciation for the Father’s love for you will escalate. He helped me with the one I mentioned above and with others. He can do the same for you.
By the way, I’m still holding out for a “Jack Frost encounter”! But in the meantime, I’m going to believe His Word and soak in His Spirit so that I abide in the awareness of the safety of His loving embrace.
See Hosea 11:1 – “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” This is God’s take on His actions bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt, which are depicted quite spectacularly in Exodus 7 to 14 and elsewhere.