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Our Father....
By Nancy Canwell

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:8-12, NIV).

Research has shown that one of the reasons members choose to leave church is that when they're facing troubled times, they're often angry with God. Yet it's during these times that they need God the most! That's why it's so important to seek out these missing members. We need to be there to listen to them and hear their pain. Then we need to show them what God and the church has to offer.

When Scott decided to give church another try, he was one of those returning with anger toward God. Although he was an adult, Scott couldn't bury the terrible past of growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father. And he blamed God for it. Why hadn't God stopped his dad from hurting him? Why did he have to live out his childhood in fear, never knowing when his dad might come home drunk and beat him again? It was all so unfair.

As a result, Scott's aversion to the word "Father" was so strong that he couldn't recite the Lord's Prayer because it begins with the words, "Our Father." And other Bible texts that referred to God as a father were tough for him to read also.

Thankfully, the church that Scott came back to was sensitive to his pain. The pastor recommended that Scott see a professional counselor who could help him work through his painful memories. And the pastor and some of the members spent quality time with Scott, showing him texts that prove that God is a loving God: " 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him' " (John 3:16, 17, NIV). "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1, NIV).

It took months of counseling and Bible study for Scott to realize that he shouldn't compare God to his dad. He came to realize that his Heavenly Father was everything his earthly father was not. In fact, his Heavenly Father was everything Scott had ever wanted and needed in a father! But had it not been for the understanding, compassionate members and pastor, Scott may never have been able to forgive his dad, or been able to see God as a loving father. Because of them, he learned he had a loving Heavenly Father who understood his fear and anger, and who was waiting for him to come home.

Prayer Focus: Pray that the Holy Spirit will show us how to demonstrate, without preaching, the simple fact that God loves the disconnected even when they are angry with God. God has big shoulders.

Recommended Resource: Project C.A.R.E. Christians Achieving Restoration through Empowerment. Order though AdventSource: Click Here.