In his recent book Tempted and Tried (an excellent resource!), Russell Moore reflects on the temptations that we face day in and day out through the lens of the temptations of Christ in the wilderness. I will say more about this book another time but I wanted to first draw attention to a specific quote and then move into praise for God.
Reflecting on the physical desires that humans face Moore says “what we’ll have to decide is whether we’d rather be fed or fathered.” He is driving at the temptation that we face to make our belly (or our reproductive tracts) our god. If these become our gods then we are slaves who must work to satisfy them – an impossible task. But if we allow ourselves to be fathered we will be freed from this. What it means to be fathered is simply to recognize one’s self (assuming you are a follower of Christ) as a son or daughter to God and to put your faith in God to father you; to provide for your needs in his timing. That our good God and Father has appointed a time and means for our needs (that God created in the first place) to be provided for is an encouragement as we war with the desire to satisfy these physical needs on our terms and in ways contrary to God’s word. What we need to do is remember who our Daddy is and trust him to Father us.
This truth of trusting God to father me became very real recently. I moved my family from Greenville, SC to Limerick PA to become an assistant pastor at Limerick Chapel (A Bible Church). Because these tight economic times have hit Limerick, among many other churches, so significantly I agreed to come on without pay and try to find other employment, though the church graciously provided housing and utilities. While my wife continued to work remotely for an amazing mortgage specialist, I was unable to find satisfactory employment for this past month. So as happy as I was to be at Limerick Chapel (and we are very happy here!), the nagging feeling of not being able to provide for my family slowly began to descend upon me like a dark night.
Enter Russell Moore. As I began to reflect on my job search I began to realize that I wanted to be fed rather than fathered. I was going to find a job in my time, to fit my expectations. And when I heard the “you’re overqualified” line I would begin to be frustrated and despair. I had to repent of these attitudes of self-confidence and frustrated desperation again and again. I had to learn that God was my Father and that he would provide what he wanted at the best time. And he did.
And he did not simply father my circumstances; he fathered my heart. He fathered me as he provided the grace that I needed each day to trust him that day. He fathered my as he provided the repentance that I needed to turn back to him. He fathered me as he provided fresh awareness of Christ’s righteous reliance upon the Father as my own in Christ when my failure was engraved before my eyes. He fathered my heart through the kind and encouraging words of my wife. He fathered my heart through the clear teaching of his word. He fathered my heart through the gracious gifts of his people. My Heavenly Father fathered me.
And you must allow him to father you too. I do not know what you are going through. Things may be going so well for you right now that you don’t even realize that you need to be fathered. Things may be going so poorly that it is hard to imagine a Heavenly Father at all. I have lived most of my life in the “in between” with some small forays into both extremes. But what I have seen, thanks to Russell Moore, is that seeing God as our Father and allowing him to father us is of critical importance for our lives.
– Soli Deo Gloria