I had a dream that I was walking in the garden in Heaven. When I passed the gates, I knew there was something here that promised of peace. Somehow I sensed God was in this place.
As I walked I saw someone. “Are you God?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “I am the gardener.”
Seeing another person, I asked, “Are you God?”
“No,” he replied, “I work here, I am a sweeper.”
I kept on walking in the garden and asked a few people on the way whether any of them was God. Many of them, like I, were looking for God as well. After a number of these episodes, I thought to myself, “This is ridiculous.”
I wondered how to find God here. It dawned on me the best place would be to go to his office. That way, when I came to that door that states “God’s Office,” I would be pretty certain I would meet him.
Then in the midst of my looking, I awoke from my dream and I sensed the Lord's prompting. He said sadly, “I know all of my children but they do not know me.”
I am reminded of these verses. “ ‘My people are foolish and do not know me,’ says the LORD. ‘They are senseless children who have no understanding’ ” (Jeremiah 4:22). “My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me,” he said in Hosea 4:6.
Pondering over the dream days later, it brought heaviness in my heart. Because it suddenly took me back to the time when I saw my earthly father for the first time after almost 20 years. He had left my mother and our family when I was three or four years old. I never forgot what he looked like.
It was at a busy shopping area when I saw him. I was coming down an escalator when he, standing one floor below, looked up. Our eyes met and he waited till I arrived at his level. He offered his hand, smiled, and said, “Hello.”
I took his hand formally, smiled back, but did not feel familiar enough or have the confidence to call him “Baba.” It had been too long. Then he asked, “I’ve seen you somewhere…have we met before?”
He did not know who I was. Because he was not there when I was growing up he did not recognize me as his adult son. How would he have known? I was no longer the child he knew.
He had not witnessed my maturity over the years. He did not know what thrilled me or what terrified me. He was not there when I scraped my knee or when I did my best time at a swim meet. Would he have let me lay next to him in bed or even cuddled me when I got scared in the middle of the night?
Would he have punished me for my bad grades? What advice would he have given me when I fell in love and got married? Would he have been proud of me when I made my first major business deal?
I cannot answer any of these questions. I suppose over my childhood, had I sent my father photographs or videotapes of myself, he would have known me better. I suppose if we had taken the time to talk on the phone even periodically, we would have had some kind of relationship. But there was none of that. As a result we did not have a history with each other. I bear his name, even some resemblance, but that was all.
As I wondered about my dream, the Lord reminded me of all this. He reminded me of this chance encounter with my father. Was it a chance encounter or was it arranged just for this very moment?
This showed me something of the sadness the Lord must feel when we do not know him as our father.
When I accepted Jesus I was grafted in to his heavenly family. A family with a long and wonderful history from the beginning of time. A legacy in which our Father has taken great love in recording and preserving through the ages for us to learn of him. This Word, the Bible, is our family photograph album and videotape.
It tells of our ancestors and their relationships with him. From Abraham to Zechariah, we learn of his faithfulness to his children, his love for them and his involvement in their lives. We know that he can get angry and disappointed, and that he can punish and reward.
As well, we learn that he can feel pain and hurt and longs only for us to return always to him and to his love. He wants us to know him, not by reading the Bible as a source of cold, hard facts, and through his Spirit so that he may fellowship with us and be the light that guides us and the love that encourages us and gives us hope. He desires only to bless us.
He is the father that binds up our wounds, the father that runs out to put his arms around and kiss his prodigal son, as the mother hen who yearns to gather her chicks under her wings, the lover that died for us, the groom that is waiting for his bride.
He knew me before I was born, he knows every fiber of my being. He knows how many hairs I have on my head. He knows when I laugh or when only I alone know of my anxiety and pain. He knows my prayer even before I utter it. And he loves me despite my bad grades, my sins.
But do I really know my God? Am I investing time to get to know him as he reaches out for me? Most of us know our protocol when dealing with our parents. Sometimes we just stand at attention and say “Yes, your word is authority,” but there are times when we can hold each other in our arms in love.
If we don’t know his Word, we cannot do that. We cannot recognize him from the gardener or the sweeper. If I do not know him in the flesh, I might as well just be a slave or a mere subject to his kingdom at best, or an orphan, at worst.
Sonship can only come about through confidence of knowing one’s place in his Father’s house and that requires knowing his character, his ways, his rules and in that process, building a relationship with him. Over time, over years.
He has offered us sonship. That is so amazing. We are to be joint heirs with Jesus. Let us claim it so that when the trumpet sounds, we can run to him with outstretched arms--in familiarity and without any reservations whatsoever--and call out, “Abba, Father.”