Little Eddie's daddy had agreed to play hide-and-seek with him. So while Eddie counted, Daddy hid. Then Eddie opened his eyes and started the search. Behind the curtains in the living room and the dining room. No daddy. Under the dining room table, the kitchen table, in the kitchen closet. No daddy. Which meant Eddie was going to have to look upstairs. Unfortunately, his father was nowhere in the bathroom or either bedroom. Which left only one place to look - the big closet - which had a light switch Eddie couldn't reach. With his heart beating a mile a minute, Eddie opened the closet door and stared into pitch-blackness. He felt to the left. No daddy. He felt to the right - R-R-R-R-R-R-R! It had to be a big bear! Eddie ran as fast as his little legs could go down the hall - R-R-R-R-R! The bear was chasing him! Down the stairs, through the living room, the dining room, into the kitchen, to the back door. R-R-R-R-R! He couldn't look back, but the bear was right behind him! And the kitchen door was locked! Suddenly the bear reached out and grabbed Eddie - and hugged him. It wasn't a bear trying to hurt him, it was a Daddy trying to hug him!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Daddy, Not A Bear."
So many of us have made that same mistake - about God. Maybe your whole life you've thought God was a bear you had to be afraid of, a bear who would hurt you. When, all along, He's been a Father who wants to hug you.
Our feelings about God are deeply affected by how our parents treated us, especially our father. If my father hurt me, then God - who's asked us to call Him our Heavenly Father - will hurt me, too. If my father wasn't there for me, then God won't be there for me. If I could never get my father's love, I'll probably never get God to love me. And so on.
And our feelings about God are shaped by our religious background, too. It could be that the God of your religion has been one to fear, for the most part - a God only of rules, of condemnation, and of judgment. Whatever the reasons, you may have never experienced the hug of God because you've always been afraid of Him. So you've run from Him instead of to Him.
It's definitely time for our word for today from the Word of God in 1 John 4:9, then verses 18 and 19. "This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son that we might live through Him...He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins...There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear...We love Him because He first loved us."
Until Jesus died to pay for all the wrong we've done against God, we had reason to fear the eternal punishment of God for our sins. But God loves you so much that He gave His Son so He wouldn't lose you. All God's anger and punishment for all your sin fell on Jesus. What He's offering you this day is not condemnation, but forgiveness, not anger but love, not hell but heaven! It's all yours for the receiving - if you'll open up the one love you can totally trust.
You don't need to be afraid anymore. God has been pursuing you to this very moment. He does not want to hurt you. He wants to hug you.