God's word in today's world

God’s other side

I didn’t know my own father well, because apart from the fact that he died when I was thirteen years old, he was a minister and, in those days, the minister belonged to the congregation. He spent the majority of his time with the congregation.

What I do remember about my dad, though, is his big smile and how friendly he was. He cared for people always and would do anything for other people. In particular, he always wanted to help those in need, even at his own expense.

But there was another side to him that didn’t hesitate to punish wrong deeds. My dad had a whole row of switches and it was your “privilege” to pick your “favourite” for the matter at hand. After hesitatingly handing over the one you picked, you would have to bend over.

I know my dad didn’t enjoy it. After each blow, he would pick us up and hold us on his lap, waited until we stopped crying, and then explain clearly why he was doing it. Every session between blows was concluded with a, “I love you very much”. Which we didn’t really believe with our burning bums.

Later, we learned to rather run to our mom if we suspected my dad would find out about our misdeeds, so that she could give us a hiding. She wasn’t very good at it, but my dad wouldn’t hit us again if she had already done it. But wait, I’m digressing again.

My father loved his children very much. He was a good father. He was just and very kind. But sometimes, if you had strayed too far, you were punished. And that’s not something that you would always want to remember or talk about.

And in a way, it’s the same with God. The picture that I paint of God is that of a loving grandpa with a few grandchildren sitting on his lap. A father who only wants the best for his children.

However, there is another side. A side where He is just, and when people simply do not want to obey Him and stubbornly refuse to comply, they will have to take the consequences.

3Remember that God said, “Exasperated, I vowed, they’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest

This isn’t light music, but it is necessary for us to hear it again. People simply cannot continue pulling in the wrong direction. We cannot play with God’s grace, because there is a line somewhere. And God doesn’t move that line further.

When people are stubborn and do not listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, they come very close to the point of no return. When they cross the line, they end up in a Godforsaken place, where God is not present. This is a very lonely place. And hard. And painful.

Let us never get close to that line and may we ensure that all who live within our sphere of influence also remain on this side of the line.

Hebrews 4:1-3

What does your picture of God look like?
Do you also see God’s other side?
How far from the line are you?

Father, thank you that I can know that You are my Father. Thank you that I don’t have to face your other side. I realise that is because You are merciful. Make my heart sensitive for others who live too close to the line, and give me the wisdom and strength to help them. Amen.

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