And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-3 ESV
We stood in the judge’s chambers in Uganda. We were there to petition for guardianship of our new children, because Uganda does not allow foreigners to complete the legal adoption there. Even though the kids had been abandoned years ago, it was required that both their parents be present at the hearing because they are still living. Their presence, along with their signatures, represented their consent to the adoption of the children. I thought that was all that would be needed.
To our surprise, the judge called our 12-year-old new daughter up to the microphone to ask her some questions. She had to testify for herself and her brother that they both wanted to be adopted. The judge asked if she recognized her mother and her father sitting there in the room, and then asked her to testify in front of everyone present that she chose to have us as her parents in place of her natural parents.
Recently, the Lord highlighted for me the fact that our son and daughter couldn’t come under our parentage if they still belonged to their other parents. Immediately, I understood what He was getting at—He was not able to take His place as Father in my heart because that place was already occupied. And then I heard Him ask:
What are the things you’re allowing to parent you, instead of Me?
And that is the question I want to pose to you.
For most of us, if we have walked with the Lord for some time, it would be easy to declare that we worship only one god—our God—and no others. But the thing is, our God has never been interested in only being the authority we answer to. From the very beginning, He has made it clear that His desire is to be our Father. Our parent. While we are young, our earthly parents are supposed to provide and define for us love, acceptance, nurture, comfort, praise, value, and identity. According to God’s perfect design, we would receive these things from our parents and our parents would then teach us to seek and receive them from the Father.
But whether we received those things from our parents, in part or not at all, we were made to need them. Whenever we are not seeking and receiving love, acceptance, nurture, comfort, praise, value, or identity from the Father, we will seek it somewhere else.
And whatever gives us any of those things instead becomes a parent to us.
So then, what are the things that are occupying the Father’s seat in your heart?
That question addresses more than just who the authority figure is in your life. It also asks who or what has your affection most, what voice do you listen to first and above all else, where do you run for comfort, safety, and reassurance, and what ultimately defines you and gives you value? If you’re like me, you’d probably say:
Everything else but God.
Take a few moments and ask the Lord to search your heart. Ask Him to show you what is parenting you, right now. Ask for His help in removing whatever is in His rightful place. Then invite Him to take the throne in your heart and be the Father to you He is longing to be.
O God, Again and again, we look for something to fill our empty places and our needs—something tangible, that we can see and feel. But nothing satisfies for long, Lord. Only You can do that. Would You come now, and take Your rightful place in my heart? I love You, Lord. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.