One of the most wonderful revelations of the Bible is that God is our Father. When we think of a father, we think of protection, provision, warmth, and tenderness. Or does the word father paint a different picture for some? God reveals himself in the Bible as a gentle, forgiving father, intimately involved with each and every detail of our lives. It is a beautiful picture, but a true one.
However, every person seems to have a different idea of what God is like. We unconsciously tend to attach the feelings and impressions that we have of our earthly father to our concept of our heavenly Father. Our personal experience with human authority is usually transferred over to how we relate to God. Good experiences bring us closer to knowing and understanding God, just as bad experiences create distorted pictures of our Father’s love for us.
“God setteth the solitary in families” (Psa 68:6). A family involves a circle of relationships, including an adult male and female to which tiny, dependent human beings are born and raised. God wanted us to come into this world totally dependent and helpless because He intends through the family unit to demonstrate His love to both parent and child. As parents we begin to really understand God’s heart toward us as His children. And as God’s children, it is God’s will for us to see His love revealed through parental tenderness, mercy, and discipline.
But what if the ideal didn’t happen? What if we have failed in some way by parental authority? So many children have suffered hurt and rejection by their families that it is hard for them to see God as He really is.
Understanding the character of God is essential if we are to love Him and serve Him and be like Him (Gen 1:27). We want to look at five areas where parental failure produces misconceptions concerning God and His love for us. As we look back into our personal past, if we see our relationship with God has been hindered in any way because of a failure or absence of tender loving care from one or both parents, let us allow God to grant us strength to make the difference.
1. Parental Authority
Our past experiences dictate our response when God reaches out to us. A weeping prophet named Hosea heard the voice of God describing this (Hos 11:1-4). God’s authority is not harsh, but gentle and loving.
Our heavenly Father is at this very moment being slandered and misrepresented by men’s cruelty and selfishness in homes all over the world.
The problem is that children shrink back from authority because of the way they were treated by their own authority. In Ephesians 6:4 God commanded parents not to provoke their children to wrath, making them angry and resentful. Rather, they should bring them up with loving discipline that the Lord Himself approves of.
2. Parental Faithfulness
Every promise of God will be fulfilled. He is consistently loving. He never changes. He desires to love and forgive. Do we distrust God? Distrust hurts Him deeply.
Is our heart soft towards God? Look up and see His love (Heb 13:5; Matt 28:20). Too many times we have failed to become His voice and hands to those who do not know Him. Our heavenly Father is reaching down right now, whether we are a youth who was neglected, or a hurting parent who had no time for the child when they needed us. God is still faithful (John 10:10). Even when we are too weak, God remains faithful (2Tim 2:13).
3. Parental Generosity
Modern homes are stuffed with expensive things, and parents become angry with the child when they break something of high value. Children are constantly reminded of the importance of things rather than the value children are to their parents. We need to let our children know that we love them even when something is broken.
The greatest demonstration of God’s Father heart seems to come with His attention to details of our lives. God goes far beyond our basic needs (Psa 37:3-5).
4. Parental Affection
One of the biggest hindrances to our walk with God is a sense that our flesh is repulsive to Him because of sin. When our child comes to us all covered with mud, we pick him up and wash him up. We reject the mud, not the child. Even though we have sinned, we are still the apple of God’s eye. It is God who pursues us with a forgiving heart.
In our world today, many children do not experience affection nor compassion from their parents. Jesus is not like that; He feels our hurts and He understands the rejection.
5. Parental Attention
This is God’s ability to abide with us all the time. Let Him have all our worries and cares (1Pet 5:7). Sometimes parents are too preoccupied with their own lives and fail to show an interest in their children’s lives; not so with God. He knows us and cares.
A little boy has worked all afternoon pounding nails into a piece of scrap wood. He finally emerges from the garage and shows a three-level ship to Mom. He can’t wait until Dad gets home. Dad is late. At 6:30 a tired, preoccupied man finally arrives. A cold dinner is waiting, and so are the income tax forms. The excited boy proudly displays his handiwork to a daddy who barely looks up from the calculator. Daddy never looked, never appreciated; but God did. Father God always looks, always takes delight in the work of our hands. He’s our real Father and always will be. Don’t ever resent the failings of our human parents; rather, rejoice in the wonderful love of our Father God.
We must find forgiveness in our heart towards anyone who has hurt us. If we don’t, our bitterness will consume us, and we will find no peace with God. One of the keys for release is found in forgiveness. The important thing is that we get to know God for who He is and move forward. He is the perfect Father. Will we receive God’s love and affection? It is our prayer that each of us will realize His love for us and respond to the Father heart of God.
~ Clare, MI
(Adapted from the Beacon by permission)