God is Not an Absentee Father
by Pat Schatzline
Although God is a loving Father who promises to never abandon us, there are times in our walk with God when we feel all alone. I love what Denise Frangipane wrote in her booklet Overcoming Fear: “Our first place of victory is in believing the truth concerning our relationship with God.” Victory—over fear or anything else—comes when we realize God wants to be in relationship with us. That is Christianity 101, but I believe many believers missed that course in the early part of their walk!
Despair and loneliness can overwhelm even the strongest of Christians. I once heard it said that God whispers in the good times and shouts in the bad. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could go back and walk in the cool of the evening with Him as Adam did, or if we could have a burning bush experience as Moses did? I have often said my greatest goal when I get to heaven is not to see loved ones who died before me, dive headfirst into the River of Life, or dance on the streets made of gold and fine jewels, but rather to run and find Jesus. I want to go for a walk with Him. I want to thank Him for being my Savior and Friend.
What I am sharing is so hard for a person who has been abandoned by a parent to understand. It’s hard for a person whose father was never there to believe God the Father enjoys spending time with him and is watching over him. But God’s Word is true no matter what we have been through. Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him” (The Message). God’s door is always open to us no matter what we are walking through, and He provides rest.
We have been given another awesome promise in Matthew 11:28–30: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (The Message). The last part of that passage says it best: “Keep company with me!” In other words, God is saying, “Let’s hang out!”
We have all gone through seasons when it seems the heavens were silent. A dear friend and mentor of mine named Glen Berteau was ministering to me one day while I was walking through a very quiet and lonely season. I needed a word from God, and it just seemed that the heavens were silent. He said, “Pat, the teacher never talks when he gives a test.” Those words brought life to me. God had not gone anywhere; He was just walking me through a season of testing. I have learned that nothing can be trusted until it is tested!
The psalmist described how much God loves us in Psalm 139: “Even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in!” (vv. 1–6, The Message). That passage truly describes the Father. I wish I could read this verse to every person who has ever felt abandoned. As the psalmist said, “God’s love is just too wonderful. I can’t take it all in!”