Thursday, 30 December 2010

Father lost and found

John Reynolds: 30/12/34-23/9/85

September 23, 1985
Another day at school finished, and we were just having the register at the end of the day before going home. The Head of Year came into the room and asked me if I’d accompany her to her office. Uh-oh, had I been in trouble? But then she said we needed to walk to my mum’s workplace, which was quite close to the school. This was odd. For some reason I didn’t ask why, we walked silently. The police cars outside my mum’s office didn’t help the feeling of foreboding that was growing inside. Walking into my mum’s office, seeing the police men there, seeing the look on my mum’s face – I braced myself. As she told me that my dad had been killed in a car crash on his way to work, the floor beneath me seemed to fall away, or rather the rock on which I had based my life did, and my mum and I just clung tightly together.

December 30, 2010
I may have lost my earthly father, but in the last 2 months I have found my Heavenly Father. Which is probably an odd thing to say, for someone who has been a Christian for 18 years. I have started rereading The Forgotten Father by Thomas A. Smail the last couple of weeks, and he expresses so well my experience. He lost his own father as a young boy, and he says “Experientially it is possible to confess Christ and not live in the power of the Spirit or have confidence before the Father. All Christians believe in the fatherhood of God, but not all have entered into the confident trust and willing obedience that belief implies. And they can do so, not by being taught or exhorted but only as a result of a distinctive activity of the Holy Spirit within them. God must send the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying Abba Father...In Christ God has made himself our Father and us his children. For that to come home to us in the power of the Spirit is one of the most healing things that can ever happen to us.” Mmm. This happened to me 2 months ago. I have always known my Heavenly Father since He opened my eyes to the gospel when I became a Christian, but I never had confidence before Him, I was always hiding behind the righteousness of Christ, so that He wouldn’t see my dirtiness. Now I have come to the realisation that the blood of Christ has actually washed me clean, and I have discovered a new-found delight and confidence in approaching my Loving Heavenly Father, and an ability to receive His love for me.

I am stunned at the way God is speaking to me at the moment. For example, last night I was led to do an impromptu bible study on the word compassion after the lovely Christina Langella posted on Facebook a comment about God’s compassion. Not only did I discover to my shame that I don’t know very well those verses that speak of His compassion, I discovered He is called the Father of compassion (2 Cor 1:3) and amazingly that the Bible proclaims “in you the fatherless find compassion” (Hosea 14:3).

I miss my dad. I miss most of all not being able to discuss my faith with him. His dad was a priest in the Anglican church, and my dad also wanted to become a priest – but returned from a liberal theological college disillusioned with the teachings there that denied the virgin birth. He loved all the bells, incense and singing in the High Anglican church, and had been a choir boy at Ely Cathedral. My dad was a brilliant pianist and I used to love to listen to him play The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. He struggled with life – we believe he had Aspergers Syndrome, and had mild obsessional behaviour, and we used to get so frustrated as a family waiting for him to join us in the car to go out as he did all his last-minute checks in the house, but he was a great dad.

Today would have been his 76th birthday. I have tears today – but they are tears of joy at finding my compassionate Heavenly Father.


Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
(Psalm 68:4-6)

Thursday, 23 December 2010


(photo by Becky Pliego)

The mystery of the incarnation has been occupying much of my thoughts lately, for obvious reasons! I can’t even begin to fathom how the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. I can’t understand how He could leave the glory He had with His Father before the world began, in order to be born of a woman as a vulnerable baby, dependent on His mother for her care. I can’t comprehend the humility with which He made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

This mystery is too great, too awesome, and these words of mine are too inadequate to do it justice.

So I have to turn my attention to a part of the story on a more human level. Mary, to whom the angel declares “Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). What a greeting! What greater commendation could a person receive? To hear that you are highly favoured by the Mighty God, that He is with you, and that you are blessed – surely this is the heart’s desire of us all. No other testimony matters, other than that which God declares.

Then to be told: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end...The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:31-33,35). Not only favoured by God, but chosen to bear the Son of God! What greater honour could a woman receive? What greater privilege?

What follows such an awesome encounter with the angel of God and such words as these?




Betrothed to Joseph, yet pregnant. A young, unmarried woman clearly carrying a child, bringing shame on herself, her family’s name, her husband. One can imagine the talk in the village. Matthew tells us that “And her husband, Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19).

Mary’s life has gone from the heights of joy and gladness at finding favour in the eyes of God to having to deal with the unbelief of men. Faith in God immediately comes up against the negative reaction of the world.

Isn’t this the way of our Lord Himself who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame? Isn’t this the way of all those who would follow their Master? “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Cor 1:23-25).

May our hearts firmly seek the favour of the Lord and not of men. May we seek His praise, and not the praise of men. For we have this great promise to hold on to: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (1 Pe 2:6).

Friday, 17 December 2010


At a bible study recently, our pastor asked whether we were content with our knowledge of God, with our understanding of who He is. Surely the response from the heart of those who have been touched just a little by the love of God is that as we grow in our love of Him, and as we receive more of His love, our hunger for Him grows. This is another of those glorious Divine paradoxes! A.W. Tozer puts it so well:

“To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.” (The Pursuit of God)

Moses was a child of the burning heart. Having already seen the visible glory of God when manna from heaven was rained down, and when he met with God on Mount Sinai to receive the Law, he asks God “Now show me your glory” (Ex 33:18). He has seen what I would dearly love to see – the visible glory of God, yet it is not enough – he asks for more.

David was a child of the burning heart. He loved his God. He knew his God loved him. And his longing to know more of his God poured forth in these words:

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?”
(Psalm 42:1-2)

Paul was a child of the burning heart. He says “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Phil 3:8). Yet he then goes on to say “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11). He knows Christ, yet his heart cries out that he wants to know Christ.

To those whose hearts have been touched by the God of Love, there will be a continual hunger and thirst for more of God whilst we are away from home. Now we see but dimly. Now we see but glimpses of God’s glory. Now it is as if we are climbing in the mountains, and we make it to one peak and our hearts cry out in gladness and joy. Then our perspective widens and we see we are not at the summit at all, but rather still in the foothills, and a higher peak comes into our vision – sometimes requiring a downward traverse first. But the exhilaration at reaching the peaks is treasure from heaven, and we continue our upward climb. Now we cry out with Job:

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).

For we have faith that one day, we will see our blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ our King and Saviour, and when we are gathered before Him, we are told that “Never again will they hunger, never again will they thirst” (Rev 7:16). On that day, we will be satisfied. On that day, the yearning of our hearts will be quieted. On that day, we will drink deeply from the River of Life and our thirst will be quenched. Until then, may God grant us the grace to keep straining towards what is ahead.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The embrace of my Heavenly Father

As a mother of a young child, there is no greater feeling than being able to offer comfort, hope, safety and encouragement through a warm embrace. To know that as I hold my child in my arms, I am able to convey to him more deeply than mere words ever could that he is my child and he is much loved.

As a child of my Heavenly Father, there is no greater feeling than receiving comfort, hope, safety and encouragement through His warm embrace. To know that as I am held in His arms, He is conveying to me more deeply than mere words ever could that I am His child and I am loved.

This prodigal daughter has returned home. When my eyes were finally opened and I recognised that I was a sinner before a Holy God and shamefacedly returned to Him to plead for mercy, He came running towards me, threw His arms around me and kissed me. He ran towards me! He embraced me! He kissed me!

How is this possible? Because of Christ. Because the Son of God made Himself nothing, took on the very nature of a servant, was made in human likeness, and humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Is it possible year after year to be filled with ever-increasing awe and wonder as we contemplate the miracle of the incarnation? This heart of mine is overwhelmed this Advent-time. So much to wonder at – Mary, the young virgin, receiving a visit from the angel Gabriel to tell her she would bear the Son of God in her womb; the shepherds receiving a visit from a great company of the heavenly host singing praises to God; but above all that the Son of God would leave the glory He had with His Father before the world began to come to earth to save us.

And because He came, because He lived, because He died, because He was resurrected, because He is ascended, I can enjoy the embrace of my Heavenly Father.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)