© February 10, 2018 | Schulter Etyang
Have you ever wronged someone, asked for forgiveness, but still felt something wasn’t right? Yes, you wronged that person. Yes, you repented and asked for forgiveness. Yes, at least in your mind you think the air has been cleared and that you could begin with a clean slate. But something still feels off. You still feel itchy about the whole situation. You try to shake it off, but it won’t go away.
Many times in my marriage, I have wronged Jenny, bigly. When I asked her for forgiveness, she graciously forgave me. However, I’ve always been left with the feeling that her forgiveness wasn’t enough – I didn’t do enough to warrant her forgiveness. I check her body language to see whether the forgiveness is real and usually look at her face to see whether she is still angry with me.
Living in South Africa gives me this sense that even though Black South Africans forgave White South Africans for their past sins, White South Africans have never felt forgiven. White South Africans still feel as if the chickens are yet to come home to roost. Hence, the constant suspicion between the two races.
This is Absalom’s experience with his father after he comes back home from exile. 2 Samuel 14:21-33. A self-imposed exile because he had murdered Amnon his brother. Why did he murder Amnon? Amnon raped Absalom’s’ sister and Absalom was consumed with hate for Amnon. He waited two full years to avenge the wrong because David their father would do nothing. After murdering Amnon, he ran for his life.
Yet, even in his exile, David longed for Absalom. The Hebrew word used for longed is kalah, which means finished. In our lingo, we would say something to this effect, I’m finished after learning about the death of so and so. David longed for Absalom. It brings out the sense of desperation and anguish that David had for his son. In an infinite way, this is what God felt about Adam and Eve after they had sinned. And this same feeling was extended to all of humanity. God longed for us.
Nevertheless, after the intervention of Joab, and a witty, wise woman, Absalom came back home but did not get to see David. He was in Jerusalem for two years but did not see the King – his father.
2 Samuel 14:28 (NKJV)
And Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem but did not see the king’s face.
So, what did Absalom do? He threw a tantrum. He burnt Joab’s field to gain his attention. It’s only after that incident that Joab took Absalom to his father and was embraced and kissed.
I think the temper tantrums I throw are attempts to get my heavenly father to embrace me. It’s attention seeking. It’s reaching out for his embrace. I know that I’ve been forgiven. His word says so, right? But I haven’t seen the face of my father. I haven’t experienced my daddy’s kiss – the kiss of my heavenly Father.
It is plausible that most disorders, mental issues, autoimmune diseases, self-esteem, and sexual identity issues that plague our generation could be connected to the fact we haven’t experienced the kiss of the heavenly father. We know the truth about God’s forgiveness in Christ (yeah, yeah, yeah), but we haven’t been embraced and kissed. We haven’t seen the face of our father. Absalom’s experience is our experience.
Remember the Hebrew word kalah? While Jesus hung on the cross, he used that word.
John 19:30 (NKJV)
When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus cried out kalah! – finished – It is complete – knowing that Jesus spoke Aramaic, which was the language of his day.
Jesus took on the role that Job played in Absalom’s life in reconciling us to our father. On the cross, he suffered the anguish and desperation (kalah) that his father felt towards us. He also suffered the anguish and desperation (kalah) that we felt towards our father. And then he declared kalah – Finished – I have completed the reconciliation between My father and His children. They are now one. They can kiss and embrace. This is the gospel.
Jesus completed the reconciliation between Our Father and Us – His children. We are now one. We can kiss and embrace.
Luke 15 – the story of the reckless and extravagant father who ran to meet his son now becomes true to us because our heavenly father runs, embraces and kisses us repeatedly. While we were still far off, our heavenly father saw us and then did a Usain Bolt. He ran, embraced, and kissed and kissed and kissed us.
I hope to one day say this, “I have experienced the kiss of my heavenly father”. I hope to move beyond the intellectual understanding of knowing I’m forgiven to actually experiencing the embrace and the kiss. I don’t want to only have a father who meets my needs and takes good care of me. I want a father that runs after, embraces, and kisses and kisses and kisses me. My daddy’s kisses would mean the world.
That’s what grace looks like