Hebrews 12:9: “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live.”
In a popular movie from some years ago, the main character described the horrors of war:
“I have seen, boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there is nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit; there is no prosthetic for that.”
What on earth does that movie quote have to do with this letter? It has everything to do with this letter! In fact, it touches on every social ill, including self-destructing starlets, young men who commit murder, and a vast unnamed generation tormented by the bitter failure to find self-worth.
Something unseen is feeding on the American spirit. Colleges scramble to deal with a surge of “mental illness.” People go to anger management and come out enraged. Miracle diets have made their victims fatter. People go into rehab addicted to drugs and come out addicted to rehab.
It is no longer the heinous acts of criminals that stun police as much as the mindless acceptance of these acts by society. Entire neighborhoods concede the future of their children to crack houses, gangs, and pimps. An entire generation is conceding their future to government control because they feel helpless to face the future.
We were tasked to reach and disciple students at the University of California during the campus revolutions of the 1970’s. We labored amid tear gas, riots, hedonism, and suicide.
We saw that those students had the heart of an Orphan, and they had an amputated spirit. They came from homes where performance was everything. At Berkeley they faced a double edged sword—pressure to get good grades and pressure to join the demonstrations. Neither side showed them any mercy.
This is a widespread crippling condition among Americans today. It is as rampant in the Church as it is outside the church. The orphan-hearted feel they are on the bottom even when they are on top. No matter how lofty their success, they cannot savor it. Nothing removes their insecurity because hidden software running in their spirits keeps them desperate for the approval of some vague ‘someone.’ They can never please this phantom, but they cannot stop trying.
The last verse of the Old Testament predicts this and names the cure. Malachi 4:5-6 says, “Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
To be free of an orphan heart, learn these truths.
1. Transfer your search for approval from an earthly father to your Heavenly Father. Let Him provide the missing nutrients in your past and present. God will heal your devastated childhood. Hebrews 12:9 says it so clearly: “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!”
2. Remember, important people may do important things, but it is wrong to assume that if we accomplish important things, we will feel important. Again, even after success, orphans feel worthless.
3. Let the Holy Spirit flood your heart with the Spirit of Adoption! Lord, let us see how the death of Jesus on the Cross destroyed the curse of sin that separated us from God our Father and made us orphans. Show us how You yearn to saturate our hearts with the unshakable knowledge that we are Your beloved children. When we know that through Christ we have Your approval, no one else’s approval will ever matter. And no one will ever be able to make us feel worthless. Amen.