A Father’s Love
I had many opinions of my father. But for the most part, they were my opinions, viewed from my singular perception, and from my own desires and how he related to them.
One time I stole money from his wallet. I had been stealing from his wallet for some time, and I did it because I wanted to be able to buy more food for my friends in school. Of course buying for friends sort of showed you were a big boy. I wanted to be a big boy. So I stole.
When I was caught, my father pronounced my punishment: no allowance for a full year. No soft-drinks. No special money for special things. No presents. Nothing extra. Just food and school.
I had a myriad of feelings. I firmly believed that I had a good reason for stealing and so I felt he should not have been so harsh. I concluded he was wicked.
I was also ashamed that I had stolen, and that I had been caught. I lost some rep in school and I could not keep up my “social status”.
I was just so annoyed and ashamed and everything together.
Greatest of all was my guilt. I could not face my father. I calculated my movements and activities in the house in such a manner that my father and I would not be in the same room at any particular time. Only during prayers would we see, and I would be uneasy throughout.
In my mind, he was extremely disappointed in me. He probably saw me as a thief, and a disgrace. He probably did not even want anything to do with me. He probably did not care anymore. And on and on and on, my mind went.
And in that thinking, I believed I did not have any need for him as well. We all could just stay in our rooms and just be fine. Who cares? I fully justified myself. I was stealing to help my friends in school. Big deal. Who cares?
What a totally ill-conceived mindset.
After about three months, my father called me one day and sat me down in the living room. There, he told me that he had decided not to continue my punishment.
Allowances were reinstated and I had my “life” back.
I was happy. It however took me some time to realise that nothing significant changed by the reinstatement of my allowances and my discharge from my punishment. Literally, nothing.
Throughout the period of my punishment, I had survived well. My parents had provided food for me. My school’s fees were paid and I had the driver take me to school and back home daily. I had lunch packed for me everyday. I actually had no need that was not met. I survived not being a big-boy.
All through the time my father was still doing his duty towards me. He did everything he had to do, minus put money in my hand.
In retrospect, I realised that my real punishment was not the sanction, but the self-imposed withdrawal from my father. I lost communion with the only man in my life at the time because I could not reconcile a man’s love with his discipline.
I felt if he truly loved me, he would not punish me. He would just rub my head and say: “Don’t do that again” and life would go on. And since he didn’t say that, I felt he must have really hated me. So I withdrew, because I did not want to get into even more trouble with this man.
My father had noticed my withdrawal. To restore the relationship, he did the biggest thing he could do. He pardoned my theft. Not only that, he removed the sanction already imposed. And he did all that because he wanted me to see who he really is: a loving father.
I did not see the reality of that however, until I truly felt bad for my wrong, and apologised to him. My mother explained the situation to me. He had never for once hated me, nor had he any desire to put me in a position of disadvantage. Stealing is bad, and any father will correct that in his son, by reason of love. Not for hateful purposes.
When all that understanding came to me, I saw my father in his true light. He loved me. His punishment for my wrong was a loving deterrent, so I would not continue in stealing. There was a loving purpose to it. And in my small-mindedness, I did not see that. I did not see any reason for a punishment, and I certainly did not get why I had to be sorry. I did good with the money.
Oh silly me.
Yet even in that silliness, stupidly severed from communion with my father, and enjoying myself in my false justification, my father went to the greatest extent for me (in that situation), and pardoned me, even when I did not request it. I did not even believe I had done wrong at all.
That pardon meant very little to me until I realised how much I missed talking to my father, and listening to him. I had missed his laughter and his smile. I had missed his stories about Nigeria and the rise of Methodism, and all those historical things. I missed him bringing books to my room and guiding me on what to read and what not to read. I had missed the liberty to go to him to ask him for help when I needed it.
I had been alone.
And when I realised what that pardon meant, I knew I had been living in a fool’s paradise. I became truly sorry for what I had done. I let go of my self-righteousness and conceit. The proclamation of pardon did not set me free. It gave me room to accept freedom. It was my realisation of what it meant for me that set me free. It was the truth; I needed communion with my father. Until I accepted that, the pardon meant nothing to me. But when I did, I realised the true import of it, its reason, and I was grateful for it.
I thought so many times of how this event changed my life. The Holy Spirit has been so gracious in teaching me eternal lessons from an ephemeral circumstance.
For disobeying God in the Garden, there was indeed a punishment for man. It was not the immediate punishment we see, God sending them out of the Garden. That action was actually so that man could remain redeemable, and not be trapped in immortality with a debased mind, by eating the fruit of the Tree of Life. That was like my dad removing money from my hands so I would not become a thief, or a lover of money. It was but for a time.
God did place a curse on man and forever declared enmity between man and the devil. I realised later on that man took that curse upon himself the moment he disobeyed God and took the path of godlessness. It was more or less like saying a thief would forever have to look over his shoulders, in fear of the police; in fear of being caught.
It was probably the hardest pronouncement God had to make, but I particularly believe it stemmed from two reasons. First, the mere fact that neither Adam and Eve admitted to doing wrong and asking for forgiveness. Second, God’s judgment is a function of His love. The Bible says that there is a just recompense for every sin.
So also man, as you have chosen this path of godlessness, you will be debased. You will live in the natural, as opposed to the supernatural. you ought to live in
God has every right to pronounce judgment on his creation’s misdeeds. He is the creator, and we cannot choose what He decides to do with us. Thank God, He is a loving God, full of grace and mercy. Yet He is also a just God. Or which one of us would not commend a judge for sending a murdered to jail?
Godlessness is the curse. And the life that has become natural to us now is a curse. This curse comes directly from choosing to disobey God, in favour of our own way. We are doomed, and destined to walk in a way that is lower that God truly ordained. That is why it is called the curse of the law, because it springs from a spirit of disobedience.
Essentially, man brought a cursed life upon himself.
When God revealed Himself in Jesus, He opened up a way for us to return to communion with Him, and to take up shop under His guidance so He could lead us to our true nature’s destiny, and steer us from the destruction we set ourselves up for.
Jesus Himself said it in probably the most quoted verse of the Bible. God so loved the world, that He gave Jesus Christ as an expression of His image and love, that whosoever believes in Him will not die, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
My situation with my father is good example, maybe, but does not in any way begin to scratch the surface of what Christ truly means for the human race.
I was indifferent about my father’s pardon until I saw the love in it, and the access I had to Him. That is exactly the message of the cross:
“Come home to your Father. Cone home to who you truly are.”