A Heavenly Affection

Our Father who is in heaven …

A FEW MORNINGS BACK I was jogging through my neighborhood. I’ve been known to miss some important dates, but even I could not miss the significance of that day. It was the first day of school. Reminders were everywhere: newscast interviews, stores packed with parents, yellow buses awakened from summer slumber and rumbling down the streets. My own family had spent the previous evening packing backpacks and preparing lunches.

It was no surprise to me, then, to see a pretty little girl step out of her house wearing new clothes and a backpack. She couldn’t have been over five or six years of age and was walking toward the curb to wait for her bus. “Have a great first day of school,” I greeted as I jogged past.

She stopped and looked at me as if I’d pulled a rabbit out of a hat. “How did you know?!”

She was stunned. From her perspective, I was a genius. Somehow I had miraculously discerned why she was up so early and where she was going. And she was impressed.
“Oh, I just know those kind of things,” I shouted back to her. (No need to burst her bubble.)

You, on the other hand, are not so easily impressed. You know how I knew. You understand the difference between a child and a grownup. Adults live in a different world than children. Remember how your parents amazed you? Remember how your dad could identify any car that passed? Weren’t you impressed at your mom’s ability to turn flour and milk and eggs into a cake? As my parents discussed the Sunday sermon, I can remember thinking, I didn’t understand a word the guy said.

What’s the difference? Simple. By virtue of training and study and experience, adults occupy a different domain. How much more is this true of God. Take the difference between the girl and me, amplify it a million times over, and we begin to see the contrast between us and our Father. Who among us can ponder God without asking the same question the girl did: How did you know?

We ask for grace, only to find forgiveness already offered. (How did you know I would sin?)

We ask for food, only to find provision already made. (How did you know I would be hungry?)

We ask for guidance, only to find answers in God’s ancient story. (How did you know what I would ask?)

God dwells in a different realm. “The foolishness of God is higher than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor. 1:25). He occupies another dimension. “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8–9).

Make special note of the word like. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are they even like ours. We aren’t even in the same neighborhood. We’re thinking, Preserve the body; he’s thinking, Save the soul. We dream of a pay raise. He dreams of raising the dead. We avoid pain and seek peace. God uses pain to bring peace. “I’m going to live before I die,” we resolve. “Die, so you can live,” he instructs. We love what rusts. He loves what endures. We rejoice at our successes. He rejoices at our confessions. We show our children the Nike star with the million-dollar smile and say, “Be like Mike.” God points to the crucified carpenter with bloody lips and a torn side and says, “Be like Christ.”

Our thoughts are not like God’s thoughts. Our ways are not like his ways. He has a different agenda. He dwells in a different dimension. He lives on another plane. And that plane is named in the first phrase of the Lord’s prayer, “Our Father who is in heaven.”


Having comforted us in the living room and assured us with the foundation, Jesus now leads us upstairs. We ascend to the highest level of the house, stand before a heavy wooden door, and accept God’s invitation to enter his observatory.
No telescope is needed in this room. The glass ceiling magnifies the universe until you feel all of the sky is falling around you. Elevated instantly through the atmosphere, you are encircled by the heavens. Stars cascade past until you are dizzy with their number. Had you the ability to spend a minute on each planet and star, one lifetime would scarcely be enough to begin.

Jesus waits until you are caught up in the splendor of it all, and then he reminds you softly, “Your Father is in heaven.”

I can remember as a youngster knowing some kids whose fathers were quite successful. One was a judge. The other a prominent physician. I attended church with the son of the mayor. In Andrews, Texas, that’s not much to boast about. Nevertheless the kid had clout that most of us didn’t. “My father has an office at the courthouse,” he could claim.

Guess what you can claim? “My Father rules the universe.”

The heavens tell the glory of God and the skies announce what his hands have made. Day after day they tell the story; night after night they tell it again. They have no speech or words; they have no voice to be heard. But their message goes out through all the world; their words go everywhere on earth” (Ps. 19:1–5).

Nature is God’s workshop. The sky is his resume. The universe is his calling card. You want to know who God is? See what he has done. You want to know his power? Take a look at his creation. Curious about his strength? Pay a visit to his home address: 1 Billion Starry Sky Avenue. Want to know his size? Step out into the night and stare at starlight emitted one million years ago and then read 2 Chronicles 2:6, “No one can really build a house for our God. Not even the highest of heavens can hold him.”

He is untainted by the atmosphere of sin,

unbridled by the time line of history,

unhindered by the weariness of the body.

What controls you doesn’t control him. What troubles you doesn’t trouble him. What fatigues you doesn’t fatigue him. Is an eagle disturbed by traffic? No, he rises above it. Is the whale perturbed by a hurricane? Of course not, he plunges beneath it. Is the lion flustered by the mouse standing directly in his way? No, he steps over it.
How much more is God able to soar above, plunge beneath, and step over the troubles of the earth! “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Matt. 19:26). Our questions betray our lack of understanding:

How can God be everywhere at one time? (Who says God is bound by a body?)
How can God hear all the prayers which come to him? (Perhaps his ears are different from yours.)
How can God be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? (Could it be that heaven has a different set of physics than earth?)
If people down here won’t forgive me, how much more am I guilty before a holy God? (Oh, just the opposite. God is always able to give grace when we humans can’t—he invented it.)

How vital that we pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven. Pray with any lesser conviction and your prayers are timid, shallow, and hollow. But spend some time walking in the workshop of the heavens, seeing what God has done, and watch how your prayers are energized.
Speaking of the Father’s workshop, let me tell you about a visit I paid to one as an eight-year-old.


The highlight of my Cub Scout career was the Soap Box Derby. You’ve heard of people standing on their soap boxes to make a point? We got inside our soap boxes to win a trophy. The competition was simple. Construct a motorless wooden go-cart and enter it in a downhill race. Some of the creations were fancy, complete with steering wheel and painted casing. Others were nothing more than a seat on a wooden chassis with four wheels and a rope for steering. My plan was to construct a genuine red roadster like the one in the Scout manual. Armed with a saw and hammer, a stack of lumber, and high ambition, I set out to be the Henry Ford of Troop 169.

I don’t know how long my dad watched me before he interrupted my work. Probably not long, since my efforts weren’t a pretty sight. The saw kept jamming and the wood kept buckling. The nails tended to bend and the panels didn’t fit. At some point Dad mercifully intervened, tapped me on the shoulder, and told me to follow him into his workshop.

The small white frame house on the back of our lot was my dad’s domain. I’d never really paid attention to what he did in there. All I knew was what I heard: buzzing saws, pounding hammers, and the whistle of a happy worker. I kept my bike in there, but I never noticed the tools. But then again, I’d never tried to build anything before. Over the next couple of hours that day, he introduced me to the magical world of sawhorses, squares, tape measures, and drills. He showed me how to draw a plan and measure the wood. He explained why it was wiser to hammer first and paint later. I was amazed. What was impossible for me was simple for him. Within an afternoon, we had constructed a pretty decent vehicle. And though I didn’t leave the race with a trophy, I did leave with a greater admiration for my father. Why? I’d spent some time in his workshop.

You’re following me on this one, aren’t you? By showing us the heavens, Jesus is showing us his Father’s workshop. He lets us hammer our thumbs just enough times and then taps us on the shoulder and says, “Your Father can handle that for you.” And to prove it, he takes us into the Father’s workshop. With a sweep of the hands he proudly proclaims: “Our Father is in heaven!”

Behold the sun! Every square yard of the sun is constantly emitting 130,000 horse power, or the equivalent of 450 eight-cylinder automobile engines. And yet our sun, as powerful as it is, is but one minor star in the 100 billion orbs which make up our Milky Way Galaxy. Hold a dime in your fingers and extend it arm’s length toward the sky, allowing it to eclipse your vision, and you will block out fifteen million stars from your view.

Consider the earth! Our globe’s weight has been estimated at six sextillion tons (a six with twenty-one zeroes). Yet it is precisely tilted at twenty-three degrees; any more or any less and our seasons would be lost in a melted polar flood. Though our globe revolves at the rate of one-thousand miles per hour or twenty-five thousand miles per day or nine million miles per year, none of us tumbles into orbit. Our God who “stretches the northern sky out over the empty space and hangs the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7) also created an invisible band of gravity to hold us secure.
Now as you stand in the observatory viewing God’s workshop, let me pose a few questions. If he is able to place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain, do you think it remotely possible that God is able to guide your life? If your God is mighty enough to ignite the sun, could it be that he is mighty enough to light your path? If he cares enough about the planet Saturn to give it rings or Venus to make it sparkle, is there an outside chance that he cares enough about you to meet your needs? Or, as Jesus says,

Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store into barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. And you know you are worth much more than the birds…. Why do you worry about clothes? Look at how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that even Solomon with his riches was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers. God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today but tomorrow is thrown into the fire. So you can even be sure that God will clothe you. Don’t have so little faith! (Matt. 6:25–30)

Why did he do it? A shack would have sufficed, but he gave us a mansion. Did he have to give the birds a song and the mountains a peak? Was he required to put stripes on the zebra and the hump on the camel? Would we have known the difference had he made the sunsets gray instead of orange? Why do stars have twinkles and the waves snowy crests? Why dash the cardinal in red and drape the beluga whale in white? Why wrap creation in such splendor? Why go to such trouble to give such gifts?
Why do you? You do the same. I’ve seen you searching for a gift. I’ve seen you stalking the malls and walking the aisles. I’m not talking about the obligatory gifts. I’m not describing the last-minute purchase of drugstore perfume on the way to the birthday party. Forget blue-light specials and discount purchases; I’m talking about that extra-special person and that extra-special gift. I’m talking about stashing away a few dollars a month out of the grocery money to buy him some lizard-skin boots; staring at a thousand rings to find her the best diamond; staying up all night Christmas Eve, assembling the new bicycle. Why do you do it? You do it so the eyes will pop. You do it so the heart will stop. You do it so the jaw will drop. You do it to hear those words of disbelief, “You did this for me?”

That’s why you do it. And that is why God did it. Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.”

I’m about to tell you something you may find hard to believe. You’re about to hear an opinion that may stretch your imagination. You don’t have to agree with me, but I would like you to consider it with me. You don’t have to buy it, but at least think about it. Here it is: If you were the only person on earth, the earth would look exactly the same. The Himalayas would still have their drama and the Caribbean would still have its charm. The sun would still nestle behind the Rockies in the evenings and spray light on the desert in the mornings. If you were the sole pilgrim on this globe, God would not diminish its beauty one degree.

Because he did it all for you … and he’s waiting for you to discover his gift. He’s waiting for you to stumble into the den, rub the sleep from your eyes, and see the bright red bike he assembled, just for you. He’s waiting for your eyes to pop and your heart to stop. He’s waiting for the moment between the dropping of the jaw and the leap of the heart. For in that silence he leans forward and whispers: I did it just for you.

Find such love hard to believe? That’s okay. Remember the little girl who couldn’t imagine how I knew she was going to school? Just because she couldn’t comprehend it didn’t mean I didn’t know it. And just because we can’t imagine God’s giving us sunsets, don’t think God doesn’t do it. God’s thoughts are higher than ours. God’s ways are greater than ours. And sometimes, out of his great wisdom, our Father in heaven gives us a piece of heaven just to show he cares.

Max Lucado

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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