“Familiar” is an adjective meaning Well known from long or close association: “a familiar voice”. I have seen pictures of the fiercest looking dogs laying with small kittens and sleeping babies peaceful as a lamb. There is no fear in the owner of these beasts because they have raised them, and they know them well. If a stranger walks into the room that loving dog can with one growl and the baring of it’s teeth create fear that would cause the would be assailant’s knees to go weak from fear. My dad in the prime of his life was a giant of a man, one man described his hands as being the “size of a ham”, but God never created a more tender hearted man than he was with us. He held the babies in those big hands and cooed sweet sayings, songs and prayers into their tiny ears and they responded by smiling and relaxing into sleep. One my earliest memories is my dad singing me to sleep “be Thou my guiding star and hold me by the hand..” I don’t remember much past that except the tune but it comforted me when I was scared, or had an earache and made me feel safe. I am thinking of these things because I want to show you from my point of view, God the Father. As sweet and kind as my dad could be if he thought you were going to do harm to one of his own you better watch out. There was fire in those black eyes. I remember one Sunday way back when the church was still new and every single person was important almost to the point of making it or not from week to week. We had formed a singing group of about eight young people and we sounded so good in a Nancy Harmon/Andre’ Crouch (if you can imagine the combination with a little Sammy Hall thrown in) sort of way. We did a beautiful rendition of “Oh Happy Day” and we all loved to sing that song. Unbeknownst to us two of the main supporters in the church declared a war on our style of singing. They were talking to other congregants about that particular song and one of them challenged “the next time they sing that song I am going to get up and walk out!” He had the agreement of the other man and they decided to do it together. One Sunday morning after that I began to pump that tune out of the big Hammond organ and the group began to sing, Oh Happy Day… true to their word they got up and walked out the back door. My dad saw them; there was a door from stage right that led to the outside.. My dad went out that door like a storm and caught them on the front step of the church as they were laughing about their act of disrespect. My dad walked up behind them, I am sure it scared the devil out of them, laid one of his big hands on each of their backs and calling them by name said “You pass a lot of churches to get to this one, next time you want to go to church you can stop at one of them! You won’t disrespect the young people of this church and get away with it you are no longer welcome here!” They knew he meant it. How is that like God? A lot of people seem to picture God as a mean God of vengeance, judgment and sending people to hell for their misdeeds. As any parent that wants his child to obey and do well God has a way of keeping us in line, but when you are willing to listen He does it in love and with the tenderness of a precious parent. God sent Jesus in the flesh so that He would be tried and endure the same temptations that we so that there would be a High Priest that could identify with our sufferings, then Jesus went back to the Throne and sent the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Guide. Hebrews 4:14-16 Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. When you are familiar with God you know what to expect from Him and you know that all He wants from you is your love for God is love. One of the most precious photos I ever saw was of John-John hiding under his dad, the President’s, desk, unafraid because his dad was the President! You can run into the Throne room and slide up to the Throne of Grace boldly and ask for mercy in your time of need, no fear.
One last thing, the men I mentioned earlier had each called in the last few years of their life and apologized not only to my dad but to me and as they both died within my dad’s life time, he was asked to preach each of their funerals.