A God to Call Father
Outside your relationships with God and with yourself, your relationships with your mom and your dad are the next most important. These are the formative relationships in your life. Your ability to relate to others—and the kind of person you’ve turned out to be—is largely wrapped up in the relationships you had with your mom and dad.
Your relationship with your dad is especially critical. There are lots of different kinds of dads. Some are amazing and empowering. They dispense love and hugs freely. And some dads . . . are not. Maybe you had an absent dad—due to death, or divorce, or work schedules, or emotional distance. Maybe you had an abusive dad who brought damage into your story. You might be struggling with your sense of place in the world, and a lot of it could be rooted in the kind of father that raised you. Your dad may still be present in your life, for better or worse.
The enemy knows that God is a perfect heavenly Father. He also knows the way you will perceive God as Father will be impacted by how you view your earthly father. So, if he can disrupt that relationship with your earthly father, he can keep you from fully understanding who God is and how you can live in a relationship with him. The enemy has been quite successful at this.
For many people, trying to understand God as their Father, based on their experience with their earthly father, is like looking through a cracked glass. Their relationship with their earthly father is broken, so the reflection they see of God as Father is broken as well. Their earthly and heavenly relationships need a revolution in order to succeed.
Thankfully, the gospel is powerful enough to bring healing into all relationships, no matter how messed up they are. Through the gospel, we receive a new identity when we come to know Jesus. We don’t just believe in something, we become someone—a loved son or daughter of God. It is a family construct where God Almighty becomes your Father and a new relationship is born. God is not the reflection of your earthly dad; he’s the perfection of your earthly dad—the version that you long for deep inside your heart.
Jesus died on the cross so that you could be grafted into a new story with a new Dad and a whole new possibility and a whole new future. You don’t have to be afraid of thinking about God as a father. You don’t have to dwell in the deficit of your relationship with your earthly father. You can lean into this new possibility and see God as the perfect Father.
Leaning into this gospel relationship with God will allow you to reflect his love back to your parents, even if they are not the reflection of the love of God to you. As you do this, you will honor them in godly ways—even when they aren’t honorable—and healing will begin. When others see you reconciling in this way, they will want to know how you are doing it. They will see a reflection of Jesus in you and want to know how this can happen in their lives.
Describe your relationship with your earthly father when you were younger. How has this relationship influenced your understanding of God as your heavenly Father?
In what ways have you seen your relationship with one or both of your parents affect your relationships with others? Were these impacts positive or negative?
What does it mean for you to honor your father and mother? How can a restored relationship with your parents attract others to God? How can it demonstrate the power of God to others?