We were talking in the Inner Healing class today about how much fathers mean to us. For those who grew up without a dad, or in a dysfunctional home, it’s a wonderful dream to imagine what it would have been like to have someone bigger and stronger stand up for you and defend you against bullies and problems and pain. Many grow up with a roof over their head and plenty to eat, but have never known that sense of security that Daddy will always be there to protect and comfort you in his strong arms. That ideal of a happy home with emotionally stable and loving parents, is what we were all created to enjoy. But generations are going by with less and less children experiencing anything like that.
When the Bible talks about God as our Father, we don’t realize what a big deal that is. When Jesus first started referring to God as His Father, it infuriated the religious leaders, it was so intimate and personal. God had never been seen in that light before, and it opened the minds of the first century believers to even dare to consider that God wanted to be close to them. A father? A loving, caring, protecting father? That was radical. Radical to the point that the Pharisees considered it blasphemy.
But now, that phrase of “Our Father, who art in heaven…” sounds so old and stale. People picture a grumpy old man, and most likely project on God, the dysfunctional father they grew up with. Jesus’ revolutionary prayer, which connected the intimacy of a father to the immenseness of heaven, is now recited by many as a mere religious ceremony.
But if God really is the most loving and understanding Father, while being perfect and all powerful at the same time, wouldn’t you act differently if you knew you had this Father caring for you all the time? If He told you not to worry about getting revenge on those who hurt you because He can take care of that problem better than you, wouldn’t you just relax and go about your business forgiving so that He could do His job? If you really believed in what He told you, you would. “You want me to forgive them God? Okay, I’ll do it because you told me to,” and we’d happily know that our Father was taking that burden off our shoulders. Forgiving our enemies would be such a relief! (Read Romans 12 for the “Vengeance is mine,” passage.)
What if He told you that if you sacrificed your ego and learned how to serve others, even when they don’t appreciate you, that He would consider it an honor to Him? Wouldn’t you want to serve as many people as you could because you knew He’d be so pleased that He’d want to bless you more?
Good parents – who are also a dying breed – know that kids who are motivated to do their best because they make their mom and dad so happy, are the ones who are the best behaved. The kids who are motivated primarily by being criticized for messing up, are the ones who are the hardest to discipline. They’ll obey out of fear for a time, which they can only sustain for so long, before they snap. Now if we, who are evil, know how to give good things to our children, how much more will God give the Holy Spirit to us? Those aren’t my words, they’re right there in Luke 11:13.
If our image of God is dysfunctional, how can we ever get close to Him? Even if you never had a great dad or a happy home, deep inside of you, you have always longed for one. You know how to picture the best dad you could have had. Now multiply him by a million, and you’ll be a little closer to picturing how loving and amazing our Father is towards us. If that feels strange to imagine, don’t worry about how it feels, just start acting like it’s true, because that’s a truth you can count on.