It’s a tragedy that’s been around for thousands of years. But every once-in-awhile God lets you see old truth through new eyes.
In short, the story goes like this: David had sinned by dealing deceitfully with Uriah the Hittite and sleeping with his wife, Bathsheba. The judgment, according to Nathan the prophet, was a sword of violence being unleashed in David’s family. This prediction begins to come true when Ammon (David’s oldest son) is killed by Abasalom (David’s third oldest son). Abasalom is banished from Israel, then restored, and once restored he begins to quietly launch a revolution to take the kingdom from David.
When the revolution happens, David is banished from his own kingdom. He takes a remnant with him and begins a war with Absalom that culminates in a final battle. It’s during this final battle that David forces his commanders to swear that if they capture Absalom they will not kill him. All of the commanders take the oath, but Joab, one of David’s most trusted commanders finds Joab hung by his hair in a tree and kills Absalom anyways.
And it’s here that our story really begins–David does what any good father would do–he weeps for his son. We see David’s heart on full display as he cries out “How I wish I had died instead of you!” Now, Joab tries to be the sensible one in all of this. He reminds David that Absalom was his enemy and that many men fought (and died) in order to restore his rule, but that matters little to David. He eventually did pull himself together and honor his army, but we see his true heart on display in his lament.
This is where God began speaking to me. I was reading this story to my sons and my daughters and I could so identify with wanting to take their place even though one of them had tried to lead a rebellion against me. “No parent should have to bury their child,” says Theoden in the Two Towers and it’s this kind of love, however misguided it may seem to others, that fills parents when they think about the demise of their children, even ones who are their enemies. As parents, it’s only right to want to die, believing our children have a better future ahead. It’s what makes us parents.
As I read the story, I began again to see the heart of God–A father who loved his children so much, that even though they participated in a horrible rebellion to overthrow His Kingdom and replace it with their own, would rather die in the place of His children than see them perish. If we feel this way…if us natural human parents feel this way towards our children…if David feels this way towards his son who sought to overthrow him, then how much more must our heavenly Father feel towards us?
Recently we’ve been discussing the power of understanding our position as sons and daughters of God. You can find the rest of the series “On Sonship” here.
Receiving True Sonship
I will not leave you as orphans;I will come to you. –John 14:16
The truth of the matter is it’s easy to write or talk about the orphan spirit. It’s a lot more difficult to instruct people on how to become legitimate sons and daughters. Part of the reason it’s so difficult is that there is no step by step process for receiving love from a father. Love gets communicated from a father (either God, our natural father, or our spiritual parents) in thousands of different ways, depending on who is giving love and who is receiving it.
But there are a few main ways that open the door for the Spirit of the Lord to produce the heart of a true son in us. My hope is to highlight six areas that open the door for sonship to be truly restored within us. If throughout this series you’ve found yourself lacking in the area of being a true son, then take one or two of these areas that strike you, go into your prayer closet and find out how God wants to lead you in this particular area.
If you’ve found yourself possessing an orphan spirit, you will want to do the following:
- Repent- First, you have to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ as the only way to God. The Bible is clear about the fact that when you receive Jesus as your savior from sin, you become His adopted brother and gain the God of the entire universe as your Father.
- Experience- Second, like we already have said, you can be a Christian and live like an orphan. You can even call God your Father, but until you experience God caring for you like a son or daughter, you will live an orphan lifestyle. The next step of the journey will require you to experience God as your Father. This will make the idea of God as a Father a reality in your heart. I would encourage you to continue to ask yourself “How would a good dad treat his son in this situation.” Then begin to pray and ask the Father to show you His fathering love through providing, directing, and counseling you in that situation, just like a good dad would do.
- Repent, again- Some of us became orphans because we had no fathers. Others of us live like orphans because we chose to leave our father’s house. Sometimes the reason we live out of an orphan mentality is because we’ve rejected the love of a natural or spiritual father God sent to us. Paul talks about the necessity of honoring our father and mother because it was the first commandment with a curse. When God first dealt with me on this subject, it was after I had truly received some of the His fathering love. I began to realize that much of my hurt had not come from my natural dad, but from my teenage angst that caused me to interpret his natural, disciplined love as unfairness. Sometimes our attitudes, rebellion, and anger can cause us to miss mature love that comes from both natural and spiritual fathers. This may require us to actually apologize to natural and spiritual fathers and mothers that we have rebelled against in the past. If we repent in these situations, it opens the door for fathering love to touch our spirits.
- Read- Much of our understanding of fathers and sons has been lost because of societal rebellion against previous generations that has occurred since the ’60’s. Because of that, very few individuals will truly understand the dynamics of healthy fathering relationships. One source that I’ve discovered a truly helpful window into the nature of father/son/daughter relationships is the book of Proverbs. The whole book is set in the context of a father imparting wisdom from God to his son, and if read in that context will give great insight into what we can expect to receive from God, from natural parents, and from spiritual fathers and mothers. It will also fill in many “wisdom-gaps” that are left over from living as an orphan.
- Find a spiritual father- One of the most overlooked ways of overcoming an orphan spirit is to find a spiritual father. God has designed the planet so that no Christian should be without a spiritual parent. Look around your life. Most likely there are people around you who are pouring into your walk with the Lord. These are people who are a little further along than you are. They are who you turn to for advise, counsel, and prayer. It’s crucial, though, that you’re looking for a spiritual parent and not a spiritual superstar. The spiritual parents God sends your way may not be in full-time ministry or even well known. None of that is necessary for God to restore you into your identity as a son. Just pray and ask Him to show you or send you those who will father you in the Lord.
- Become a spiritual parent-I remember lamenting throughout much of my twenties about the lack of spiritual parents. But as I began to grow in my walk with Christ, I realized that I was being fathered by the Lord as I took on more of the responsibility of fathering others. You may ask, “How can I be a spiritual parent if I’ve never been fathered by anyone myself?” In the Kingdom, when you give something you get more of it. If you step into the role of a spiritual parent, God will give you more of whatever little you’re able to give away. We begin to understand God’s role in fathering as we partner with Him in that process. If you are thirty years old or older, I would highly consider doing this until the Lord sends someone that is clearly designed to be your spiritual father.
This whole process does not rest only on your shoulders. God will come to you and be a father to you. He is always searching for lost sons who have forgotten their position. Take these steps, use them as a map back home, and I guarantee you that before you can even get any words out of your mouth, a loving Father will embrace you sooner than you can possibly imagine. The journey from being orphan to being a legitimate son begins with a first step. Let that first step begin now.
Other Posts in the “On Sonship” Series:
Photo Credit: Father and Son Surf Lesson in Morro Bay, CA 11 of 12 by mikebaird
Christians can be born again and not walk as sons and daughters of God. An orphan spirit undermines much of our walk with the Lord. But an understanding of our positions as sons and daughters of God is an inheritance that we cannot overvalue. The following series of articles express the great need we have to step into our identity as sons of God.