God, the Father

Do you know your father? Unfortunately, many of us do not. According to the United States Census Bureau, 25% of children in our nation live in a home without a father. This means that one out of every four children you will see today does not live with their dad.

Living in a home with a father is extremely important. However, there are many children who live in homes with fathers who do not act as a loving father should. According to the National Institutes of Health, the quality of the relationship that a father has with his children has an impact on families that can last for generations.

There is not a person on this planet who does not have a biological father–even if you don’t know who he is. I once knew a man (let’s call him Joe) who had three fathers with whom he had very different relationships. Joe’s parents couldn’t have children of their own, so they decided to fertilize one of his mother’s eggs with sperm from an anonymous donor. The man who had donated his DNA left only one clue about his identity on the medical paperwork. In the “about me” section, he wrote, “I enjoy long walks on the beach.”

Joe’s second father was from a wealthy family, but he suffered from psychological instability. Joe thinks of this man as his “first” father because he was the man of the home into which Joe was born. In fact, if it hadn’t been for this second father, Joe wouldn’t exist today. The money the man had inherited from his rich family paid for the expensive medical procedure that was not available to the average family.

However, this marriage did not last, and Joe’s mother married another man when her son was just a few years old. This third father, a stepfather, took upon himself the responsibility of caring for Joe as if he were one of his own sons. In fact, Joe has half-brothers who were born to his mother and stepfather.

I’ve always wondered who Joe’s “real” father is. Was it the man who donated his sperm, the man who paid for his entry into the world, or the man who raised him as a son? These are three responsibilities that we ought to see in only one father, but sadly, they are too often divided among many different men.

Nonetheless, all of us have a spiritual Father who created us from his own DNA, who paid the price to bring us into his family, and who will love and care for us as his own child. Our heavenly Father fulfills every role that we could ever need in a father.

Too often, our relationships with our earthly fathers make it difficult for us to accept a relationship with our heavenly Father. We sometimes see this pattern reflected in broken homes as children have difficulty making healthy attachments to men their mothers marry after a divorce. The child may have difficulty making a healthy bond with the mother’s new husband because of the emotional pain, neglect, abuse, or abandonment the child experienced from his biological father.

Sadly, many children act out against stepfathers who love them, care for them, treat their mothers with tenderness and compassion, and work hard to support the family financially. The problem with the new father-child relationship is not necessarily a reflection of something the stepfather has done wrong. Instead, the child may have difficulty accepting his new father’s love because the child has grown up to believe that fathers cannot be trusted.

The same is true for many people concerning their relationship with God. You may have had an earthly father who abandoned your family, who was physically or emotionally abusive, or who never found time to take any interest in building a relationship with you or your siblings. You might have had a father who loved you, emotionally, but due to problems in his own life was never someone that you could learn to depend upon for basic necessities, like food, shelter, clothing, or paying the bills. Perhaps you had a father who preferred your brother or a sister, and he never learned how to appreciate your unique personality. Maybe you were raised in a blended family with a stepfather, and you always felt like an outsider, never feeling as if you truly belonged in the family.

Don’t allow your experiences with your earthly fathers to contaminate your relationship with your heavenly Father. His ability to love us, care for us, provide for us, and most importantly, have a relationship with us, far exceeds the capacity of any father on earth. Even if you had the best dad in the world, his love for you pales in comparison to the extraordinary love that our heavenly Father has for us.

Any relationship you have is a two-way street. You may have done your part to try to have a relationship with your earthly father, but sadly, he failed in his responsibility to meet you halfway. You may carry a very deep wound from the pain caused by your broken relationships with your earthly fathers. However, do not allow those unfortunate experiences in your life to prevent you from entering into the best relationship with any man that you will ever have.

Jesus tells a story about a son who left his father’s home to pursue his own interests, wasting all the inheritance that his father had given him. After spending all of his money, he found himself feeding pigs, and he was so hungry that he became jealous of the food that he was slopping to the hogs. Suddenly, the boy thought to himself that he could go back to his father’s home and get a job working for him as a hired servant. At least he would be able to make some money.

As the father saw his son walking down the road toward their home, he began running toward his long-lost son. When they met, the father threw his arms around the son he had lost, kissing him, and dressing him with expensive clothes, the best shoes, and fine jewelry. Afterwards, he ordered that a feast be prepared to celebrate the return of his son.

Jesus told this story so that we could understand how God, our heavenly Father, feels about us. God loves you, he will provide for you, and he will run toward you when you take the first step toward him.

Your heavenly Father will not disappoint you. You can depend upon his love.

[If you need to talk with someone about hurt, abuse, detachment, or abandonment you have experienced from a father, click here to set up an appointment with a Christian counselor].

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