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Father’s Delight

“I don’t know why I keep crying,” she said. The tears continued to flow. It was the first time we had seen one another for several years.

She had been among those students who looked to me as their “favorite teacher” while she was in my classes. (Students tend to gravitate to those teachers they can relate to best.) She had begun to tear up when I agreed with her that I was more than a teacher on the campus. I was a father to the students and pastored those who were in my classes. She knew I cared for their personal development beyond what they might learn (or not learn) in class.

She had returned to minister to people in her home country after she received training here in the States. She was finally able to return to the States after several years. I had driven several hours to spend some with her. We had been sharing together how our Father has been leading each of us since she left the campus. She had matured and was touching the lives of many, ministering to them as I had ministered to many students. As her teacher, I was delighted to see she was advancing in God.

As I shared how God was taking me into a new phase of ministry focusing more on the world at large rather than a college campus, she often broke into tears again. She expressed her delight that many others would be exposed to what she had experienced under my teaching. But when I said I would love to come to her country to share with her group, the floodgates opened. She obviously loves her people.

We both felt that something else was moving beneath the surface. We couldn’t put it into words, but we both knew it was very deep. Part of it was the delight she was experiencing just being present as I was sharing new insights. Another part was my delight in hearing what she was doing among her people. There was also the mutual love and delight we both have in our Father and in one another. Delight! That’s the best word to describe what we were both feeling. But there was more, and we both knew it.

It wasn’t until after we parted and I was driving home that it occurred to me what was happening. I have become a father in the faith after years of teaching and working with students. There are many who see me in that light, some even call me Papa. That’s because Father God expresses his fatherhood through me as I speak to his sons and daughters. So, here is what I saw:

She was soaking up the love like a sponge, and she was delighting in my presence as she sensed Father’s presence in me. Love was flowing both ways. As I meditated on the experience, I suddenly saw what was happening beneath the surface. I was experiencing the delight our Father has when his sons and daughters receive his love and delight in his presence. I was “in the Father” experiencing Father’s emotion of delight as I released his love to her. It was like our Father God was embracing us both.

John addressed the children, the young men and the fathers in the faith in his first epistle. As we grow in Christ, we mature from being children to being the youth then to being fathers and mothers in the faith. “I am writing to you fathers,” John said, “because you know (intimately experience) him who is from the beginning” (I Jn. 2”13). I now understand that text in a new light.

My challenge to all who read this blog: Receive Father’s love and release it to everyone who will receive it. It’s the sharing of his love that triggers the growth process in the spiritual life. Those who receive and never give will never grow beyond babes in Christ.

Fount Shults

President, On Word Ministries, http://www.onword.org

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