When we were children, we felt so safe. Our parents, family members, and relatives took care of us. They always protected us from any danger and threat. Consciously or unconsciously, all kids can feel and understand such precious value of protection and safety.
For those children, like we were so, life seemed eternal. One day looked so long. They played hard without any worries, being so spontaneous with full of curiosity. By such observation and experience of our childhood, we all know how children’s cheerful demeanors could be ideal. They are completely joyful under the overflowing love of their parents and the people around them.
If ever there would be any children who can’t feel and experience this kind of love, that should be the situation that we must avoid with all our best efforts. The Bible always emphasizes the importance of caring for orphans and widows.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.James 1:27
Supporting them should be one of the most critical imperatives for all of us to provide the loving care that all children, without exception, can feel safe and protected. And such charity activities as an orphanage and the like are indeed as old as the days of the Bible. Even now, we have also seen many groups and organizations share the same (ancient) mission and vision.
Children can never live without the love and care of their parents and the guardians around them. In this regard, those adults caring for the children are almost godlike figures who look omnipotent from the children’s perspective. We can easily recall our childhood memories of how all those adults behaved.
From the eye of a five-year-old boy, for example, even the teenagers looked so matured. It seems that they can do anything without any difficulty. How much more for real adults such as parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, kindergarten teachers, and the like? It seemed they were in the mythical domain of Greek gods who observe and control the world.
Once those children become teenagers and older, however, such a mythical sense would fade away. Their self-consciousness starts more dominant. Gradually and yet surely, those children would realize that their guardians were not gods, but humans like them. Even the teenagers become rebellious to insist on being free from the control of the adults. Or, putting positively, they become more brave and independent.
Of course, it is an inevitable part of human growth and development. There should be nothing wrong unless the kids are too rebellious and destructive to maintain mutual respects. Kids can and should be independent of their guardians in one way or another. But then, the transition should be mutually respectful and well-mannered.
The Bible also emphasizes the importance of respecting parents and elders. After all, they were the godlike guardians who protected and took care of children, and they still are.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy Father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)Ephesians 6:1-2
Are We Orphans?
Sooner or later, however, after spending the seemingly eternal length of our childhood, whether we like it or not, we all become adults. We all get independent. It sounds positive and courageous. It seems that we are ready to lose and leave our godlike guardians. Is that so? Are we prepared to get rid of all the senses of the care and overflowing love from them?
Perhaps, at a younger age, the joy and excitement of becoming free and independent would be much more powerful and overwhelming than the sense of worry and subtle sadness. Like Joshua, who became the new leader of Israel after Moses, we, as young adults, feel full of courage and strength.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.Joshua 1:9
The big difference, however, is that Joshua still had his “Father.” Even though Moses passed away, he was not Joshua’s “god.” Facing reality, Joshua felt more clearly the presence and the command of the Lord, who had been his Father ever since. The Lord directly instructed Joshua:
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.Joshua 1:8
His Father had told Joshua that he should never depart the laws of the Lord from his mouth and meditate on them day and night. In doing so, he would never feel the sense of loss and sadness, even though Moses was no longer leading the people of Israel. Joshua was never fatherless. He never became an orphan.
Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.Joshua 1:1-2
Who is our Father?
How about us? Who is our Father? Most of us are not like Joshua. We feel independent in entering our adulthood. But quite often, we are too independent and too free. We act like the orphans who didn’t experience the care and overflowing love from their parents and the guardians around them. Entering our adulthood, we become fatherless, even baseless.
Who takes care of us? We don’t know. Maybe, we have to take care of ourselves alone. What are the principles and instructions that guide us in our lives? We don’t know. We have to find them by ourselves alone. Do we feel lonely? Perhaps, we do even unconsciously. Is there such a thing as God’s Love where we can wholeheartedly surrender ourselves, just like we were with the love of our parents once upon a time? We don’t know. Even we would say that we have to prove God’s existence; otherwise, such a feeling is false. We might say so.
We are orphans, feeling fatherless, worthless, and baseless, unlike Joshua, and unlike Jesus, who even knew the presence of his Farter clearly in his childhood, aside from his parents, Mary and Joseph.
And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy Father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?Luke 2:48-49
When Mary found young Jesus in the synagogue after missing him for three days (Jesus was only twelve years old at that time), he already knew about his Farther together with his parents and teachers. Jesus had never been fatherless and baseless.
We are the Prodigal Sons
And Jesus even knew that we all had never been fatherless at all as well. Our sense of feeling orphans is illusory. We thought we lost and left Him. Just like the parable of the prodigal son, we are the ones who thought we lost our Father:
And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his Father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.Luke 15:11-14
Receiving his Father’s goods, the younger son left the family and traveled far away from his home town. But then, he used up all the goods and lost everything. He had no choice but to stay miserably with swines, sleeping and eating together.
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.Luke 15:15-16
That was the adulthood of the prodigal son after leaving his Father. In the beginning, he felt so free and independent. Nobody was controlling and instructing him anymore. He could decide everything by himself as his life was up to him. He thought he took his full responsibility on his own, enjoying his fatherless life. He enjoyed being an orphan alone.
He was, however, not only fatherless, but also baseless, and eventually worthless. For the first time in his life, he experienced devastating loneliness and sadness. He felt he was completely alone. He was nobody; at the same time, God also seemed nobody in his mind.
What could he do? Would he kill himself to leave this miserable, lonely life? Or, would he become the soulless devil to deceive and defeat everyone around him? People in our days are also facing this kind of choice in one way or another. We thought we were happily free, but the truth is nihilism was out there.
He took none of them but the third way.
I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.Luke 15:18-19
He decided to go back to his Father, even though the Father would not forgive him. He decided to confess his sins how he was wrong and became worthless by being fatherless. He didn’t care whether or not the Father would accept him. All that he wanted was his sincere repentance and being with the Father alone.
And he arose, and came to his Father. But when he was yet a great way off, his Father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.Luke 15:20-21
While the son confessed his sins, the Father showed genuine kindness, compassion, and love. The Father ran towards his son and kissed him, saying:
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry… It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.Luke 15:24,32
We are all like this prodigal son. Entering our adulthood, we thought we were alone, fatherless, as orphans. The truth, however, is that our confession and repentance, like the prodigal son did eventually, can bring us back to our Father in heaven. We are home. He is so glad.
Image by wondermar