Moving Toward You (Lent) - Friday, March 9

lent 2018 devotions lutheran indian ministries

"He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children
and the hearts of the children to their fathers..."  
Malachi 4:6 (ESV)

I am convinced one of the keys to ministry in any community, maybe especially the Native American community, is reaching the fathers with the Gospel and encouraging them to take responsibility for the spiritual lives of their families. The text from Malachi suggests one of the great purposes of God through His Son, Jesus, has been to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. I think of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as God offering His best in order to turn our hearts to Him, our Father God. It was a sacrificial act of the greatest order in all of history; God offering His own Son in order to unite us with Him. What great love, what great sacrifice!

Not long ago, a young man came to me. He was from the Kuyoqot Tribe of British Columbia. He had once attended a residential school in Canada. He had not been treated well there and had developed some deep resentment, particularly toward the church. But now, he was married with a child and concerned about his daughter’s life. He wanted what was best for her but needed to confess his own bitterness and the lack of forgiveness he held for the church. He had blamed his terrible residential school experience on God. But now, the Holy Spirit had gotten hold of him and was convicting him of his need to repent and to trust God. He asked if he could share this with the congregation. 

I was happy to allow him to do so. As he was speaking, I noticed that everyone in the church was weeping. He finished and, with tears in his eyes, sang a Native song passed down to him by his own father. The song, sung in his Native tongue, proclaimed, “I am moving toward you in a good way.” After he sang his song, he asked me if I would baptize his child. It was a powerful demonstration of a repentant father moving toward his child in a good way.

In a way, I see God’s sacrificial offering of His Son as God moving toward us “in a good way.” It was costly of course, and it meant Jesus had to endure horrific suffering and rejection, but the result for us is that He turned our hearts to God the Father. He moved us to God through His sufferings, death, and resurrection. How great is God our Father!

Heavenly Father, we are so thankful for the sacrifice that moves us to you through your Son, Jesus. We offer you our thanks and praise, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rev. David Sternbeck (Nuu-chah-nulth)
Fairbanks, Alaska