We read different books in different ways. A novel we may want to binge read, becoming immersed in the story, obsessed with the characters and having to know where the next plot twist will take us. Teaching books we may make notes on the way through, pondering how to practically apply the truths to our own lives.
Well this book, The Road to the Father’s House, by Alistair Forman, is the sort of book to be read methodically, one chapter at a time, then put it down to allow time for the wisdom to penetrate our minds, to ponder the depths of the principles being discussed and let the words minister to our souls … it is soul food. You can then return to it a little later for another dose of truths. So a slow read, to be infused. In fact, probably also the sort of book you would return to every few years, as a “sanity check” on your spiritual journey.
The book covers the essential truths of the Fatherhood of God and our sonship (by which I mean as sons and daughters). It talks of how we are established in God’s kingdom, reminding us exactly who we are and where our identity lies.
Based around the parable of the Prodigal Son, Alistair explores the depths of the story. He clearly is immersed in the topic, writing with authority and wisdom, with candid glimpses into his personal journey that are shared honestly and openly. The author’s heart is clear, in wanting to edify and encourage the reader by way of strong foundational teaching.
One key question posed in the book came through for me… instead of asking “have I been restored”, which is perhaps the obvious question to ask in response to the parable, it asks “do I know what it really means to be restored, to now live in the Father’s house as a true daughter or son?” Restoration has happened, it is a gift that is given, but how do we respond to it?
Alistair answers this question, and others, by considering the next steps in a relationship with the Father, imagining those that the prodigal son may have taken, and asking us to look at our own responses. Each chapter is thought provoking and pertinent. We learn the Father’s heart for us, ‘on earth as it is in heaven’, and how this may manifest in our families, churches, workplaces and communities.
We learn what it means to transition from being orphans, to becoming sons and daughters, by the grace of the Father. And then how to continue to journey with the Father, to navigate the narrow path in all areas of our lives, with the promise of the most fruitful and fulfilling relationship. It is quite healthy to refresh our attitudes and expectations of a life walking alongside the Father.
While reading, it reminded me of that great work Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. At the end of the pilgrimage, after the perilous journey through life, the characters, regardless of their associated characteristics (set out by some amazing spiritual nominative determinism!), that by the mighty grace of the God they, and we, all reach the destination – that of finding peace with the Father.
Chapter 12 I found especially encouraging, where Alistair writes about our part to play in the kingdom, the importance of starting on the path to follow His call, stepping out in faith into His plans for us. Having just published my first book, Beneath the Tamarisk Tree, this teaching resonated and greatly encouraged me.
Through this book we can glean a renewed knowledge of the joy, fun and pleasure that there is in being in the Father’s presence, simply knowing Him as a true Father.
The Road to the Father’s House by Alistair Forman, is available here.