“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Father of the Orphaned Heart,
by Randall D. Kittle

God in His holy dwelling is a father of the fatherless— Psalm 68:5

For hours, a young boy waits in his yard … waiting for his father to come home from work and play. On his head, somewhat worn and faded, he wears his favorite baseball cap, and lying over in the grass, seemingly forgotten, is a bat. He bounces a ball off the roof of the garage, catching it with spectacular leaps and dives, but all goes unnoticed, for he performs for an audience of none. As it begins to grow dark, his mother calls him to come in and eat dinner. Only after considerable prompting does she override his protest so he is willing to leave his post in the front yard. As final terms of surrender, he exclaims while marching inside, “But Dad promised we’d play catch tonight after work. He promised!”

Dinner is more silent than the last meal of a condemned prisoner, as the young boy turns back every attempt to cheer him up and respectfully overrules each and every plausible excuse his mother suggests. Following dinner, he stations himself at a familiar place: looking out the window that oversees the driveway waiting and watching until at last, he falls asleep … still waiting for his father’s return.

Orphaned Hearts
For decades now, there has been a devastating crisis in American family-life, sometimes spoken of yet shamefully growing in proportion every year. It’s not the abuse of drugs and alcohol, nor violence in the home or sexual promiscuity. While all of these have taken their toll on American home-life, the devastating crisis to which I refer is the plague of absentee fathers in the average American home. We are bringing up a generation which has a deep wound of fatherlessness.

In the United States, it is rare to find an abandoned basket at an orphanage door in our day. In most cities, we seldom see orphaned children scouring the streets for food or searching for warm clothing. Instead, we find generation after generation of well-fed and well-dressed children who are taken care of on the outside, yet feel abandoned on the inside. Generations with absentee fathers — providers of provision … while breakers of promises. They are “raising” children who, though they have fathers, yet have orphaned hearts.

America doesn’t need an “orange alert” to let us know that homeland security is greatly threatened in America. The threat to the average American home is not some enemy from without, but a terrible wound from within — the wound of fatherlessness. In every neighborhood, every school, every church across our country, there are those whose hearts have been hurt and hardened by the plague of absentee fathers.

It is Satan’s plan to not only degrade family-life across America, but to destroy the father-child relationship for the entire upcoming generation. His reason is clear — a generation with nothing but hurts and wounds toward their earthly fathers will have more difficulty receiving the love and acceptance of their heavenly Father.

Seeking Satisfaction
With fatherly absenteeism at an all-time high, most children fail to receive the basic sense of security that should be every child’s inheritance. When your own father fails to know the longing in your heart to be with him, when it seems like you cannot even get him to put down his paper or stop his work for a minute, you may be living in a nice house and have all the “creature comforts,” yet you are left feeling fatherless. Where can the generation of boys and girls, and yes, now grown men and women who have orphaned hearts turn?

While many people show little visible response and seem to bear the desire of a heavenly Father very lightly, even in them the void may be discovered in their restless attempts to fill it. Many have turned to pursuing success, thinking enough money, possessions, or fame may be able to fill the void in their heart. Regardless of the level of success attained, they will still find, beneath it all, the tugging of an orphaned heart deep within them. Others turn to the pursuit of pleasure seeing if drinking, drugs, or sexual exploits will satisfy the hunger of their hearts. They, too, find the path a mere distraction; useful perhaps for temporarily numbing the ache, but unable to fill the void of fatherlessness they feel.

There is only One who can satisfy this desire; One whose fathering fills the heart so it is wonderfully satisfied — and that is God! Every other attempt will fail. God created each of us for relationship with Him. It has always been His desire to have many sons and daughters with whom He shares His life and love.

Revealing the Father
This fatherless generation needs Father God revealed to their orphaned hearts, and the good news is Jesus clearly revealed the Father to those who would have eyes to see. Nearly every reference Jesus made to God refers to Him as “Father.” When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He began “Our Father …” At the very end of His earthly ministry, as Jesus left, He pointed to heaven and said, “I am ascending to My Father, and your Father” (John 20:17).

When Jesus was questioned by the scribes and Pharisees as to why He spent time with sinners, He explained to them the mission He was on — to restore what Adam had lost. He begins by telling them the parable of the lost sheep. Next, He tells them of the parable of the lost coin. Finally, He tells them the longest of these parables — the parable of the lost son, which we commonly call the story of the prodigal son. This parable, found in the fifteenth chapter of Luke, was told to clearly reveal the desire of God to restore back to Himself those who have gone astray. The message is simple: those who in no way deserve the forgiveness and acceptance of Father God are still forgiven and welcomed back. Even when they are fatherless by their own choices, God would still choose to take them back as His children, and He is watching and waiting for their return! God never changes … He is still the Father of the fatherless.

Doubtless, God is Our Father
Even though Jesus revealed the idea of Father God clearly as He walked this earth, it seems we have difficulty truly grasping it. But God being our Father is far from a New Testament idea. Throughout the Bible, God refers to Himself as our Father. The Scriptures reveal Him not only as a father, but “a father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). The saints of old often seemed to understand this better than we do today.

When the children of Israel were steeped in rebellion, unworthy of the name and position God had granted them, listen to the cry of the prophet’s heart:
“Doubtless You are our Father, though Abraham was ignorant of us, and Israel does not acknowledge us. You, O Lord, are our Father” (Isaiah 63:16). Once again, they had wandered far from the God of their fathers, and they felt as if their fathers had cast them off. If Abraham were to appear on earth, he would not know them nor claim them as his offspring. If Israel (Jacob) were to return, he would not acknowledge them, as if they didn’t exist. What then can they do? The cry within their hollow hearts tells them that they cannot endure the burden of life, nor bear its sorrows without a father. Yet they are not without hope, declares the prophet, for they can bypass their earthly fathers and the fathers of their faith, and move beyond men to have a father in God. Though their hearts are empty and orphaned everywhere else — forced to their very end — yet “Doubtless You … You, O Lord, are our Father!”

It has been thousands of years since this cry was uttered from the people of Israel, but it has never died out. It is still present and pressing in the heart of every man and woman. These words express the deep longing of the human heart, a longing that is perhaps more relevant in our day than at any other time in history. Even with all its foolishness and superficiality and sinful desires, the heart of man has been made to seek its heavenly Father.

Coming into Sonship
While the desperate need for Father God has been placed in all our hearts, even true believers do not generally gain the full sense of God’s Fatherhood all at once. It is not that the position of being a child of the Most High King is not gained at once. As soon as we come to God through Christ, we are no longer an enemy of God, nor a stranger to God, but a child of God. However, it is only as we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit that we are able to recognize the Father’s voice and see the moving of His hand and fully come into sonship. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). Remember, it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to know God as our “Daddy,” when He causes us to cry, “Abba, Father.”

Have you discovered the Father who can fill the deep desires of your “orphaned heart”? It doesn’t matter if your earthly father was never there for you or always there for you, your heavenly Father wants to come fill your heart with forgiveness, love, and acceptance. Even those who have been raised with a great and caring father will find a hollowness in their hearts that only their heavenly Father can fill.

More than anything else, America is a country desperately in need of fatherly love and care. God the Father has heard the desperate cries of our hearts and is calling out to this generation,
“You are not alone, you are not unloved, I desire to be your Father for time and eternity.” Come, O heavenly Father, and soften and heal our wounded hearts.

Though we live in the days of a famine of fatherhood, the Lord is even now breaking the stronghold of the enemy. God is coming to this fatherless generation with orphan’s hearts as the Father of the fatherless and replacing the longing for a human father’s approval with the supernatural and eternal approval of God Himself. It is great to have a loving, affectionate, and approving role model in a dad. But even when that is absent, it’s difficult to remain broken and bitter when you realize that for every father who went AWOL, God Himself — the ultimate Good Father — stepped in to show you not only how good He is, but now because you are a son or daughter, how good and worthy you are too!

The very Creator of the Universe is inviting this fatherless generation to accept Him as their Father so that they might be His true spiritual sons and daughters. Listen to the heart of God expressed in 2 Corinthians 6:18:
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Let us come to our senses, as the prodigal son did, and say,
“I will arise and go to my Father!” Then we will receive the embrace of our heavenly Father, and, as we follow the Holy Spirit, we will come into the inheritance Christ died to give us … we will begin to discover our true Father … our Abba, Father.

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