Many of you reading this may have had a not-so-great father growing up. Or, if you were like me, your dad was completely absent. How then are we supposed to relate to God as our Father?
My dad left my mother and I when I was three years old. My only memory of him was sitting on his lap and looking at a globe. He told me to spin it and point to a place on it. He then proceeded to tell me that one day I could travel to that place. I believe this has developed my subconscious to some degree as I have a love for traveling. I also have a fond appreciation of globes.
My mother remarried when I was six years old. I spent the next twelve years growing up with a stepdad that I didn’t really get along with. He was a good enough guy, but I don’t think he knew how to relate to me. He never saw any of my soccer games or my band competitions as I was growing up. We had many arguments during my teenage years. In fact, on the day I left for Army boot camp, he didn’t even step outside of the garage where he was working on his car to tell me goodbye or wish me luck.
My mother and stepdad filed for divorce while I was in boot camp. I haven’t really seen him much since.
Speaking of my mother, she was fairly supportive of me growing up. She went to my games and extra-curricular activities as much as she could. She worked a lot when I was growing up, so I learned to do a lot of things by myself. I guess that is one of the skills an only child learns in their childhood and adolescent years.
Since that time, however, my mother has had a very difficult time relating to me as an adult. For the past twenty plus years, we have had difficulty communicating and getting along with each other.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because, regardless of our upbringings, I believe that we all have an innate longing for a perfect parent, specifically a perfect father.
During my quiet time this morning, I reflected on this truth. I then asked myself, “What did I always wish my dad (stepdad, mom) was like?” The answers I came up with were:
- loving, caring
- proud of me
Maybe you can relate to some of those qualities in your parents growing up. Maybe you can relate to missing some of those qualities, as mine did. Irregardless, I believe we all seek those qualities, at a minimum, in our father. For those of us who are fathers, I believe that we should strive to display those qualities to our own children.
Now, I am going to change gears. How does our experiences and perceptions of our earthly fathers relate to our spiritual Father? What do you think about when you think about God?
Theologian A.W. Tozer famously said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
As I pondered this, I developed another list. When I think about God, I think:
- Loving Father
- Just Judge
I am sure your list is somewhat different than mine, although some of it may be similar. Perhaps you think of God as a ruthless dictator. Maybe you think of Him as distant, with no real involvement or concern with your life. Maybe you think He has let you down or hurt you one too many times. Maybe you say you don’t believe in Him because of the pain you have experienced without the full understanding of the reason why you experienced it.
Whatever the case may be, it is important to realize that too often we define God by our own experiences and limited understanding. Many times, this leads to a flawed perspective. God does not allow us the opportunity to accurately define Him. Instead, He defined Himself through the words of the Bible.
Throughout Scripture, God relates to us primarily as our Father. In fact, throughout the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Jesus Himself refers to God as “Father” 189 times!
Now, the so what question. What is the point of all this? In spite of whatever kind of earthly father (or mother) we had, or didn’t have, God is the perfect Father. He is all of the things on the list I wrote about what I wish my dad was like. To quote Louie Giglio, “He’s the answer to every longing for a father’s acceptance, approval, support and love that you’ve ever experienced.”
This is exciting news! This means that no matter what our earthly dads (or moms) were like, we have the opportunity to live as beloved sons and daughters. God wants to give that to us. He wants to be our Father. The choice, however, is ours.
“And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:18)
This is exciting news!
I am loved and accepted as a son!!!