With Father’s Day just around the corner, I began thinking about that special relationship between parent and child, specifically father and child. Despite what people say about making assumptions, I think it’s probably safe to assume that if you’re spending your time reading anything that gives you more insight into God and what He wants for your life–especially this blog–you’d likely do anything for your kid(s). Except watch Caillou. I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere, and I’m pretty sure even Jesus doesn’t like that whiny brat. But, alas, I digress.
For a variety of reasons, many people have developed a distorted idea of who God is. They see Him as some gigantic, powerful force sitting around just waiting to pounce on us the second we do something even the slightest bit “bad.” Maybe even sitting around concocting ways in which to wreak havoc in our lives. Sadly, that’s so very, very far from the truth. God isn’t some far-removed entity who chuckles maniacally while tapping His fingertips, plotting pain, isolation, rejection, and loneliness for his earthlings. How can I be so sure? Well, I found this really great book that tells me exactly how God feels about me. It’s called the Bible…perhaps you’ve heard of it? Maybe even dared to read it yourself? Even if I’d never read a single page of the Bible, not even a single verse, I would still have at least a small inkling of how God feels about me. Why? Because I have a father (thankfully a good one!). Because on October 1, 2012, I watched my husband become a father (and I became a parent myself), and it changed my perspective on God’s love for me.
After watching Nathan with our daughter and studying God’s own words about how HE, my heavenly Father, feels about me, I noticed a few similarities between God and godly earthly fathers:
- God and godly fathers love their children.
- God and godly fathers discipline their children.
- God and godly fathers bless and encourage their children.
- God and godly fathers never abandon their children.
God loves His children—You can look at a father’s face when he looks at his child and see the love pour out. Likewise, our Father is filled with love for us. In fact, He is so in love with us that He sent His perfect son TO DIE for us before we had even had a chance to choose Him! Still not convinced? Just listen to God’s own Word: “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal life” John 3:16 (AMP). But our Father didn’t stop there. He didn’t provide us a Savior while slipping quietly away to let us move through our lives without His help. Isaiah 54: 8 reminds us that God is still just as present in our daily lives in 2017 as He was in the biblical days. “…but with age-enduring love and kindness I will have compassion and mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.” And I know that most of us can look at our lives, at the choices we’ve made and the actions we’ve taken, and find ample reasoning for why God’s love doesn’t quite reach far enough to cover us. Just remember, He is our FATHER. Fathers don’t stop loving their kids just because their kids make bad decisions or follow a destructive path. Good, loving, godly fathers see their kids through those things, loving them despite their choices, until they’re back on track. Our Father God is fatherhood perfected. He’s not sitting in heaven waiting on us to be good and do right before being proud of us. He’s walking around with pictures of us, showing them to everyone who will look! He loves us. He is proud of us. He wants us to know. “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing,” Zephaniah 3:17. Absolutely amazing, isn’t it? God is so excited and in love with us that He can’t contain it, and it comes out in joyful song.
God disciplines His children—As much as we love our kids, it does them no good and helps them in no way if we simply allow them to grow up undisciplined. Because we are still children spiritually, with a Father who knows the big picture and wants to lead and teach us accordingly, God shows His love for us through His intentional and loving discipline and redirection in our lives. “The Lord disciplines those He loves…”Hebrews 12:6 (NLT). However, instead of overreacting, saying things in anger and hurting feelings as we human parents tend to do, God’s discipline is gentle. He simply taps us on the heart, letting us know that what we’re thinking or feeling or doing isn’t in line with His will for us. I recently came across a quote that perfectly summarizes God’s approach to our discipline: “God disciplines us for our own good using the gentlest means possible to provoke the greatest change.” It’s not about punishment; it’s about pushing us to be our best selves. He loves us enough not to let us be totally in charge, because, let’s get real, we’d be nothing but a big hot mess! He loves us exactly as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.
God blesses and encourages His children—There are lots of things in this world of which I’m unsure, but my husband’s desire for our daughter to be as happy as she can be and his encouragement of her are not some of those things. Because he loves her so much and because he sees what potential she has, my daughter’s father is her biggest encourager. Our Father is exactly the same with us. He is constantly available to us, constantly present in all that we’re going through. No matter what Satan is trying to tell you, no matter how isolated you feel, God knows. Your Father is RIGHT THERE: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze,” Isaiah 43:2. Pick up your Bible and read His love note to you, His encouragement to you in your times of stress and trouble. Don’t know where to start? Try Isaiah. I promise you will not be disappointed.
God never abandons His children—Here’s where it gets kind of tricky. While I had a great dad growing up, we all know that’s not everybody’s story (I mean, they all aren’t Atticus Finch). I totally understand how someone who feels neglected or abandoned by their human dad would struggle to see God as a loving, always present dad. We know that God’s not human, not bound by the limitations of human love, but we do know that human hurts often scar, creating difficulty in seeing God for the kind of Father He truly is. But guess what…God knows that too. He tells us in Psalms that He is a father to the fatherless. Many of you know that biology doesn’t make a dad; what makes a dad is his love, his attentiveness, his dependability. If your earthly father doesn’t/didn’t display those characteristics, if his flaws overshadowed his goodness, you have a heavenly Father who more than makes up for it.
He is right beside you, (“…for behold, I come and I will dwell in the midst of you, says the Lord.”–Zechariah 2:10).
He is protecting and encouraging you, (“But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong…”–Isaiah 54:17).
He will NEVER LEAVE YOU, (“I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.”–Isaiah 46:4).
I’m sure we can all agree, this parenting mess is NO JOKE. We win some, we lose some. But no matter what, even if we completely blow it one day (or a few days in a row–Stop judging me!), our hearts are laid open with the love we have for our kids. Don’t think for one single second that we aren’t mimicking the love that our Father has for us. However, we are human, and our love is limited. His is not. No matter what your relationship with your father, whether good or bad, past or present, you can lean on the scriptural truths from your heavenly Father. No matter who you are, He loves you, He’s constantly looking for ways to be good to you, and He delights in you so much that He has to break into song. Who knows, He’s probably even got a few “dad jokes” up His sleeve as well! 🙂 Happy Father’s Day, God!
Dear God, thank you for being exactly the kind of fatherly perfection that we need. We come to you today asking that you help us to see you as loving and kind, no matter what kind of background we come from. We ask that you help these biblical truths sink deep into our hearts so that we feel Your loving presence. Help us to solidly know that your love and goodness far surpass what we could even imagine. Thank you for our fathers, Lord, all of those still with us and those who are already home with You. We are so grateful for the relationships that we have with them, but most importantly the one we have with You, Lord. Thank you for being our perfect parent. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, put others above yourself. –Philippians 2:3