Had a phone call the other day of another pastor friend who has slipped and fallen and graciously God is lifting and establishing once again. He just called to keep himself accountable and responsible and looking to following God in humility. I loved that call, loved my pastor friend and loved his wife for wanting to stay in love with him.
I still remember my moment. I was 15 years old and I hated my dad – hate being defined as praying every single day that my dad would die on the way home from work. Never once thought about what that hate was doing in my soul. One day, my older brother left home, he could not handle it anymore – he was going on 17 years of age. I remember asking God why I should follow Him and in the midst of my exasperated sigh He responded – you have not even tried Me yet.
Stunned with the strength of the message and the quickness of reply – I knew I had to respond. I was a pretty good student of the Bible already by then – taught in the law of hermeneutics. But this time God was looking for something different – this time He wanted me to read the text and He wanted me to learn what it was saying. Not to stop reading it until I heard the message leaping from the page. If I couldn’t get it, I would ask God to show it to me. I would look at the context, I would look at the history, I would look at similar passages in the Bible – nothing was left unturned until I never forgot the passage, did everything it told me to do, understood it from multiple angles, and felt like I was part of who I was.
The one problem I came across in due time had to do with this hate I had for my dad. My problem came in what we call the Sermon on the Mount. In my dedication to obey God’s instructions and not to move forward until I did – I came across “love your enemies.” My learning, listening, pleading and looking were not enough. Months went by and I never moved forward an inch in my relationship with my dad – in fact, it was regressing. One night, I remember my tears, telling God that it was over and that I too, at age 17 would be leaving home as well – I just could not handle it anymore and that I was sorry that I could not “love my enemy.” The next morning, still emotionally exhausted I went to the breakfast table, looked at my dad and I wanted to hug him. The overwhelming emotion of love was so great that I almost burst in tears. I ran back to the bathroom to compose myself. Tried once again, and again the rising of incredible love for my dad freaked me out and ran back to the bathroom once again. Then I remembered the night before. Then I came to the place where I knew what it meant to fear the Lord and then I knew what it meant to succeed in learning about God. Needless to say, I stopped looking at my dad, ate my breakfast and ran off to school before anything else happened. Yes, I loved my dad from that day on and God gave me insight into his past that helped me understand why he was the person he was and how to pray for him.