What kind of memories do you have of your earthly father? Mine include family swims at the beach, fishing at all hours of the day (since my dad loved to fish), going on vacations among many. My father’s life story is far too long to post in a 500-600 word post but suffice it to say that he was essentially an orphan who was rejected by his birth mother but not put up for adoption because of the near sightedness of a family unwilling / unable to offer him the emotional safety every child deserves growing up. He was bounced around from aunt to grandma to another aunt without having really feeling he belonged anywhere. In order to survive he had to learn to shut down emotionally.
Growing up my dad always felt distant to me. I vividly remember hugging him when I was nine or ten and his being unable to reciprocate. I now know it isn’t because he didn’t love me, he simply didn’t know how to accept my love. It took me into my twenties before I realized that my father really did love me.
How do you see God the Father?
Because of my struggles with a father who was not emotionally present, it has been a struggle for me to feel emotionally connected to God. Our fathers have an enormous impact on our ability to love and receive love from God. I have grown up feeling more condemnation than love. More criticism than acceptance. This has also led me to gravitate towards a set of rules to follow rather than a relationship to pursue and feel safe in.
How about you? What kind of relationship did you have with your father? If your father was emotionally unavailable you will find it difficult to connect to God. If you had a father who was both physically and emotionally present and able to express positive emotions like love and joy and gentleness count yourself blessed. For the rest of us, we need to learn to reprogram our ideas of God and fatherhood through the truths found in scriptures.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. – 1 John 3:1-2
“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned… John 3:16-18a
Do you see how these verses point us to the father’s love? How he loves us with an everlasting love? How he isn’t condemning us but he accepts us through Jesus Christ. If we believe in Jesus we are adopted into God the Father’s family. We become brothers with Jesus. We become a son or daughter.
The real question each of us must answer for ourselves is whether we will accept this truth by faith. Will we believe God through his word? Will we learn to trust in his love?