Thursday, January 30, 2014

Father to the Township Fatherless

I can still remember my teenage self running down the street, escaping from the clutches of a violent man. I run past my home. Not because the night is so dark that I can’t find my way home.  Not because the violent man’s punch to my face has blinded me.  I run past my home, aiming for my next door neighbour’s house because there is a father in that house, and in my desperate plight the house next door promises more safety and security than my fatherless home…

In hindsight, I believe that the Lord used this and many other experiences of my fatherless childhood to deepen my longing for a father to such an extent that the good news of adoption into the heavenly Father’s family, through Jesus Christ, would be so appealing to me that it would be one of the many strings with which the Lord would draw me to himself.

And I believe that in His sovereignty, God has ordained that many of his elect in the townships experience the sad reality of fatherlessness, so that when they hear the good news of the Fatherhood of God through Jesus Christ, they will be drawn to Him, as the One who can satisfy their longings for fatherly love, security, guidance and provision.

This article is not written to celebrate the scourge of fatherlessness in the townships as a good thing in and of itself, neither is it written to excuse those men who have only the power to make children, but not the patience to mould them.

But I believe that God is in absolute control over everyone and everything and therefore nothing comes to pass unless He ordained it before time began. So this piece is written as a feeble exploration of some of the reasons why God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, ordains fatherlessness for some of his elect.

God often deprives us of our heart’s desires, so that we can come to Him for their fulfillment

Consider Abraham; at 75 years old he was a sonless man with a barren wife, in a time when childlessness was seen as a curse. I can imagine him earnestly praying to his father’s gods, believing that some day they would answer his desperate cries for a son.  But by age 75, he must have given up all hope and reconciled himself to the thought that his name would forever be forgotten. 
This is why when the LORD reveals Himself to him and promises to make him the father of many nations, the words fall on Abraham’s ears like fresh water on parched lips. How can he not find this God appealing and worth following, when He promises to grant him abundantly more than that which he has been longing for his whole life?

In the same way, God sometimes deprives some of his elect the blessing of having good earthly fathers, so that when they hear the gospel of the Fatherhood of God, having experienced the loneliness and helplessness of fatherlessness, it becomes to them like a fountain of water in the desert, and they are irresistibly drawn to Him.

Therefore we must not neglect to proclaim this often forgotten blessing of adoption in our endeavours to present the gospel in the townships.  We must sound the ultimate call to khumbul ‘ekhaya. We must faithfully hold up this facet of the diamond of the gospel in all its lustre and glory, and trust the heavenly Father to make its allure effective to call His fatherless children home.

Having experienced the joy of being delivered from the pain of fatherlessness, will not those who have been adopted into the heavenly Father’s family become more sensitive to the plight of the fatherless in their communities?  Will they not be moved to act out this glorious spiritual adoption by physically adopting those who are orphans among them? Will this not in turn have a positive impact on the social ills which are the result of a lack of good fathers and father figures in the townships?

Finally, will these adopters not be eager to use this earthly adoption as a means to call and point their adopted children and onlookers to the ultimate, eternal, heavenly adoption, which all - both the well-parented and the orphaned - are in desperate need of?

Christ – The Real Power to the People

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