Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Before the Smoke...

Sobered by the London riots, we gave up our day along the Lea Valley to drive and prayerwalk around Havering both morning and evening.  It was worth it. On Tuesday night, 9th August 2011, all was quiet.  In fact, our Borough Commander reassured local people that our young people are worth praising! What an encouragement!  

Nevertheless, there is an underlying malaise on our land - fatherlessness - that needs love poured in to break it.  Many parts of East London, including our own, are orphan-hearted and abandoned.  How God wants them to experience his Father's heart and live in their true identity as sons and daughters!  Love poured in is the first step towards healing.  But what does this actually mean?  What is Father's plan? 

An orphan is a 'fatherless child'.  A heart that is orphaned is 'profoundly ruptured' from the love of a father.  Even as Christians, we are all in this condition until we experience God as our Abba - our Daddy.  Preaching from this passage"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (Jn 14.18) Charles Spurgeon spoke about the pain at the core of the orphan heart:  

"The orphan has a sharp sorrow springing out of the death (absence) of his parent, namely that he is left alone. He cannot (now) make appeals to the wisdom of the parent who could direct him. He cannot run, (as once he did when he was weary), to climb the paternal knee. He cannot lean his aching head upon the parental bosom. "Father" he may say, but no voice gives an answer." (See http://toll-booth.net/ccel/s/spurgeon/till_he_/notorphn.htm quoted in I am your Father by Mark Stibbe.)

Mark goes on to say that "the primal wound that lies at the core of the orphan heart condition is separation from a father's love", either gradually or suddenly.  He says "when a breach occurs like this it is like a tiny, invisible fault in one of the systems in a commercial aircraft...growing until it becomes a massive problem." 

We walked into that fault, that fracture, as we walked towards Tottenham Hale and the River Thames.  We felt it, we experienced it, we nursed it like a wound.  We felt it as a splinter in the land, pushing deep, causing infection and needing to be healed.

Mark identifies deep and toxic shame as something that creeps in when fathers are absent or leave..."and only our Heavenly Father's love can fill the father-shaped void in the human soul." An orphan heart leads to insecurity, fear, anxiety, mistrust, addictions... The list goes on and these profound flaws are outworked in bloodlettings of violence and pain. The 'if onlys' of negative belief come to torture and dishonour us if we don't know who we are.  Mark says this "I have come to the conclusion that...only a father can give honour to his children."

We know the truth - or do we? How deeply do we know that we're "sons and daughters of a loving Father". How much do we rest in the revelation of being "greatly loved"? How often do we live by the truth "I am ,therefore I do" and not the lie, "I do, therefore I am"? 

Our experience is that it's a rolling increasing love revelation that infuses our hearts, swelling them with increasing understanding of identity, weakening our bodies with love.  The experience is addictive.  Read Teresa of Avila's description of receiving this love from God:

Beside me on the left appeared an angel in bodily form . . . He was not tall but short, and very beautiful; and his face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest ranks of angels, who seem to be all on fire . . . In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated my entrails. When he pulled it out I felt that he took them with it, and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God. The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one can not possibly wish it to cease, nor is one’s soul content with anything but God. This is not a physical but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it — even a considerable share. (from Teresa of Avila, Autobiography, Chapter 29)

Such is the Father's love for us - a great love that consumes and is sweet beyond imagining...once touched by this, our orphan heart starts to be healed and we can share love with others.  Below is a video interview by Martin Scott...part of the answer can be found among people like this...those who love despite counting the cost...

Interview with Paula Coates from Martin Scott on Vimeo.

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