by Gil Harris
“Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Armies. What are you, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain. And he will bring out the capstone accompanied by shouts of: Grace, grace to it!” –Zechariah 4:6-7
That look, the twinkle in his eyes, that smile. I can still see it. I can still feel it, just like it was happening now. I lived every day of my life for it. It encouraged me, motivated me, blessed me, and drove me to do whatever was necessary to get it. I lived and breathed for that look of “that’s my son” or “that’s my boy” from my father.
I was 12 years old. Life was good. I was good. Then the diagnosis came…cancer, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s. In 1970, this was likely incurable. Harsh radiation and chemo therapy is what lay ahead. My father, a very strong and proud man, checked out emotionally — isolated. And all I remembered thinking was, “What have I done wrong?”
No more looks, no more smiles, no more twinkle in his eyes. I could not find a way to bring these back, regardless of how hard I tried. Then, seven short years later, I said goodbye to him, to his expressions of love, and to his approval and validation.
Fast forward to the adult years of my spiritual journey with God. Remember, we relate to our Heavenly Father the way we relate to our earthly father. I lived to please my Heavenly Father, to get that look, that feeling of approval and validation.
The only way I knew to get it was to PERFORM. Every known spiritual discipline available, I did with one goal in mind — to earn His approval and pleasure.
Thank God, I finally crashed.
With the help of Godly mentors, friends, and my wife, I began to remove the face of my earthly father off of the face of my loving, kind, and gracious Heavenly Father. I have learned that regardless of my performance, good or bad, He is crazy about me, loves me unconditionally, and there is nothing that I could ever do to separate His love from me.
In Zechariah Chapter 4, the prophet encouraged and motivated the Jews who had returned from the Babylonian captivity to rebuild the temple. They had a lot of work ahead of them. It seemed impossible. Many had already become disillusioned and defeated.
Zechariah’s word to them is the same word that God wants us to hear today. Our ability to earn, work, serve and perform will never produce the needed results to obtain God’s favor and acceptance. When facing mountain-sized obstacles, always listen for those comforting words from God — grace, grace.
Whose face have you put on God?
A person, your spouse, a church? The test to discover if it’s anyone or anything but God is simple. Ask yourself, “What are those things I do daily, weekly, yearly that make me feel loved, and accepted by God?”
I’m sure those things are good, and helpful, but they will never bring the security and approval you are seeking. God wants you to trust and rest in what He has done for you. He has provided for us, through His Son, everlasting and unconditional love, acceptance, and total forgiveness.
Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for doing for us what we could never do, nor provide for ourselves. At the cross, You placed on Your Son all of our failures, sin, guilt, shame and condemnation. We can now boldly proclaim that “He made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Today, I choose to accept and believe this fact, this truth, this life changing promise.
In Jesus’ Name, amen.