Honoring our Heavenly Father

I’ve spent the last two posts talking about what makes a wise and godly father, but when we don’t have one, it can be difficult to honor the perfect Father we do have: God Almighty.

Some of us didn’t have a father who was present in our daily lives and this affects our idea about God. I know because I’m one of those who come from a “dysfunctional family” and whose mother was basically a single parent even before she was divorced.

Is it important to have the correct perspective of our heavenly father? I believe it is.

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Matthew 5:48

The Bible compares God to many things although He is incomparable. Why take time to liken him to a shepherd, king and parent then? Because God wants us to know Him even if there’s no way we can comprehend His vastness.

For me, the thought of God as a father is the easiest to fathom, but it caused me some difficulty in my younger years. Why? Because when comparing earthly things with heavenly, some of our earthly models are woefully inaccurate.

What I Thought of a Father

My dad wanted a son. He had two daughters. I tried everything to be what he wanted. When we lived on a farm for four years, I followed him everywhere and tried to emulate his actions.

If I was a boy, he would finally love me.

My dad was a middle child of six children. Then his dad was killed in an auto accident, and his stepfather treated him like a slave. It wasn’t an ideal childhood. How was he supposed to know how to be a father?

My head knows all of this stuff. When I was growing up, my mom tried to explain all of it to me, too. But my child’s heart wanted to be loved by my father.

It’s what all children want.

I learned to love reading because my dad always had an open book. I learned to love the outdoors because he spent time out there as a carpenter and hunter.

Sometimes, he played games with us, but even then, I could never seem to measure up to the standards he had. After all, what does an eight-year-old understand about the bidding complexities of Pinochle?

Chasten they son while there is hope, and let not they soul spare for his crying.

Proverbs 19:18

By the time I knew I had a Heavenly Father, I expected Him to be distant (and He was because Heaven is a long way away), hard to please (have you seen all those commandments?) and heavy-handed (those child-rearing voices from Proverbs were oft-quoted where I grew up). Believe me, no one wanted my dad to swing his belt or a switch or anything else at their hinder parts.

What God Showed Me

I grew up in church. I made my first profession of salvation at age seven. The pastor said all I had to do was pray and ask Jesus to save me. I did. What I failed to understand was that He wasn’t drawing me at that time.

The first two professions that didn’t result in possession were largely due to my misconceptions about God as a Father. I needed to earn His approval. Maybe I’d never gotten my dad’s acceptance, but it seemed like I would be able to get God’s. He’d given a pretty well-defined list of what he wanted me to do.

But I couldn’t do it.

Through the care of a few special people, I learned about unconditional love. It’s scary to be a sinner and know you don’t deserve God’s love, mercy, tenderness, and acceptance. If my own father couldn’t love and accept me, why would a Perfect God do it?

That’s why He sent Jesus Christ.

In Jesus, we learn the truth about the heart of God. He wants a relationship with us. Because we’re unworthy of one, He willingly did all the work to make a way for that relationship to happen.

Learning the truth is a lifelong process. It helped to marry a man who could demonstrate love to me and also show it to our sons in myriad ways.

But the real change came when I was truly saved. Once the Spirit dwelt in my heart, I could finally understand the scripture. I saw their love, compassion and grace rather than the condemnation of broken rules and numerous statutes.

God chastens those He loves. He’s all about reconciliation. His promises are amazing and sure. He loved us when we were unlovable and because of that we can love Him and other people.

Do I deserve his acceptance? Surely not. But that’s the joy of amazing grace. Now that I’m a mother, I understand that the love for a child isn’t based on their performance. I love my sons because they are part of my body. God’s love surpasses even that.

If you have an earthly father who models God’s love, I hope you’ll tell him that on Father’s Day. Maybe you don’t. I get it. But you do have a perfect heavenly father. You can honor him on Father’s Day.

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