September 26, 2007

In My Father's House Are Many Rooms

2007 1527 page8 capou would never guess Andrew’s (not his real name) past when you meet him. He is a thoughtful, well-educated, fine person. Six months after his birth, Andrew was given in adoption and never saw his mother again. When he was in his early teens his stepmother, who had been divorced for several years and whose mental health was poor, could not continue to take care of him. Consequently, Andrew went to stay for a while with a family in a rural area. Later, a kindhearted Adventist physician gave him shelter. He started high school several times, but dropped out each time.

Finally he had the opportunity to study at an Adventist boarding school. Occasionally he visited his stepmother, who was the only liaison with his childhood. While in the school dormitory he used to think: All I have is this place and my old suitcase. I don’t have parents and neither do I have a home. I am a lonely person in the universe!

When his stepmother passed away, all his unhappy past life seemed to gather upon him as a giant, unbearable burden. Although he was an adult, he cried inconsolably until he remembered God’s promise: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isa. 49:15, 16). By faith Andrew clung to God’s hand and received peace and comfort trusting in his heavenly Father who would never forsake him.

Our Father
Normally, to have a father means to have shelter and food, and also to feel secure, loved, accepted, and understood. Parents give their name to the family, granting to children their identity. They guide their family, and are a source of wise advice and thoughtful counsel. Believing parents lead their family to God, who is the heavenly Father.

2007 1527 page8Some people have not had a good father, and some, like Andrew, may not have even known who was their father. But all of us have a Father—God. He is the Father, the Father “from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Eph. 3:15). He is the “Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6). Our heavenly Father has many distinctive attributes, but above all, He “is love” (1 John 4:8). He created and redeemed us. “You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name” (Isa. 63:16; see also Isa. 64:8). “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).

God knows our needs, and tenderly provides all we need to live (Matt. 6:8, 26). “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (Ps. 103:13). His voice echoes from eternity saying to each one of us: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jer. 31:3).

It is difficult for us to love somebody whom we cannot see. For that reason, God sent His only Son, to show us what the Father is like. Through His life and death, Christ reflected the love of the Father. He assured us that the Father Himself loves us (John 16:27). The greatest demonstration of that love was to give His only Son to die for us (John 3:16).

The House of Our Father
To think of a father is to think of home. How many sweet memories come to mind as we remember our father’s home! It is not strange that since 1823 one of the best loved songs has been “Home, Sweet Home!” Truly “there’s no place like home.”

Paradoxically, John Howard Payne, the author of this song, wrote in his personal diary: “The world has literally sung my song until every heart is familiar with its melody, yet I have been a wanderer from my boyhood.” The death of his mother when he was 13, and the passing away of his father shortly after, left him without a home for the rest of his life.

Millions of people feel spiritually like John Payne. Consciously or unconsciously, they are far from the heavenly Father. Perhaps they never knew Him. Perhaps they do not know how to go back to Him. Perhaps they do not have the courage to return home. But the Father’s love continues luring the hearts of His children to return home. He is moved to tears of joy when one of them comes to their senses and, remembering the abundance of the Father’s home, decides to go back (Luke 15:17, 18).

Few texts describe more vividly the attitude of God toward the repentant sinner than the response of the father to the prodigal son. Can we imagine the heavenly Father running to encounter us with open arms and a radiant face? (Luke 15:20). All who have believed in Christ have been received, undeservedly, into the home of our Father. He has accepted us, and has welcomed us into His family. Consequently, we are no longer foreigners and strangers, but “members of [His] household” (Eph. 2:19).

A Home With Many Rooms
What is our Father’s house like? It is a marvelous city, like “a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). God Himself is its architect and builder (Heb. 11:10).

Often people in big cities feel lonely in the midst of the crowds around them. The ice of indifference hurts them, and they reply in the same way, with apathy and distrust toward their neighbors.

If the New Jerusalem were like that, even the golden streets would have no attraction. But the heavenly home will be the happiest place in the universe, because the Father Himself will personally dwell with His redeemed children. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4). Then we will know Him face-to-face, and there will be no more separation among the saved ones. The home of our heavenly Father has many rooms (John 14:2). We will live together, in unity like a great family.

When my father started building his house, his friends wondered why he built it so big. The oldest children were already married, and the youngest ones were ready to leave the nest.

Questions for Reflection

1. What does it mean to you personally that God is your Father?

2. What do you find most appealing about the heavenly home God has for us?

But my parents had a very important reason to build a house with many rooms. How many times we enjoyed that home when all of us traveled from different places to gather for Christmas! How many vacations our children enjoyed with their cousins in Grandpa’s house! For more than 20 years, our father’s house has been a haven for the whole family. Thank you, Dad, for building a house with many rooms!

The house of our heavenly Father is ready to receive us. It has many rooms. There is a place for everyone. Christ has made ample provision so that all who believe in Him may dwell with Him there. Christ and the angels eagerly await the moment when they will come to take us to our everlasting home. If they have not come yet, it is because God is patient with us, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Let us get ready for that day, which is closer today than yesterday. This world is not our home. We are pilgrims journeying to our Father’s home. As we travel, “let us sing a song that will cheer us by the way, in a little while we’re going home” (Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, No. 626).

Carlos A. Steger serves as editor in chief of the Buenos Aires Publishing House in Argentina.