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Father

“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will . . .” (Ephesians 1:4-5)

Beholding God as our father is one of the most wounded views that people have of the character of God. Satan has attacked our family structure for so long, primarily through men, that many of us carry a negative, or at best, a neutral view of the role of a father. We project this view on our maker, and we then miss out on the joy and benefit of being fathered by God.

If for no other reason than the fact that fatherhood is so attacked in our world today, it is obvious that this is meant to be one of the most cherished and significant expressions of God in our lives (for what enemy would not want to send his greatest attack against our biggest source of strength?). And when asked by His disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1), Jesus taught them to address the God of the universe as their Father. Surely, this is important.

But what exactly is the role of a father supposed to be? To understand this clearly, we need to first lay aside all other understanding of fatherhood, and realize that the perfect fatherhood of God is not the same as the broken expression of it that most of us have experienced on earth (even those of us who were blessed to be raised by loving and caring fathers with all the best intentions).

First and foremost, we have to realize that we are not God’s children by accident. We weren’t the result of an unplanned anything. God knew us and chose us before we entered the womb. He has adopted us as sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:4-5). And He did so because He genuinely loves us. He saw us wandering alone as orphans and welcomed us into His house.

The thought reminds me of Oliver Twist, who, wounded and near death, falls on the doorstep of the very house he’d tried to rob the night before. When seen as a child, the lady of the house has compassion on Oliver, and takes him into her rescue.

“But even if he has been wicked,” pursued Rose, “think how young he is; think that he may never have known a mother’s love, or the comfort of a home; and that ill-usage and blows, or the want of bread, may have driven him to herd with men who have forced him to guilt.” (The Adventures of Oliver Twist, Volume 2, by Charles Dickens)

And then I think of the prodigal son, who after insulting his father and squandering his inheritance, comes crawling back to work as a slave, and is yet accepted as a son.

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had com- passion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

Many years ago, God showed me the difference between being His slave and in being His son. The slave may do the work of His master, and it may be out of strict obedience or even out of love, but the slave doesn’t receive an inheritance, nor does he have the same favor with his master as the child has with his father. But the child knows, and even commands, the father’s business. The child lives in the joy and freedom of his father’s house for it is also his house, and he and all his descendants walk in the inheritance and blessing of his father.

When you are a child, you can approach your father at any time for any reason. He’s always available, and even if he’s in the middle of something, he will stop everything for his child. You are his top priority, and nothing else matters. When he’s with you, you are the most important thing in his life. A slave doesn’t get that attention. As a matter of fact, a slave may be punished for approaching his master without invitation. Not so with a son or daughter.

At the time in my life when God was showing this to me, I still thought that it was enough just to work for my Master, while wondering all the while what happened to the intimacy I once had with Him. But if you recall, He told me that if even I led thousands of people to Him and didn’t have the relation- ship with Him that He desired, I would not be allowed into His house. It is something completely different to be a son or daughter. When you’re blood of His blood—when you’re family—it’s not about working or doing. It’s about being. And you can do everything wrong, while being a son or daughter, and He will still love you and welcome you home.

There is too an inheritance for the children of God. All that belongs to the Father belongs to His children. As a matter of fact, the Father has sacrificed everything for His children. As natural parents, we know that having children takes a massive involvement of time and resources. From sleepless nights with a crying baby to doctor bills and college tuition, parents sacrifice their personal gain for the blessing of their children.

And God is eager to give us His time and attention, as well as every resource we need, when we are truly His daughters and sons. He delights to give us the Kingdom! If we will simply know Him as Father, we will never be in need.

“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

So clearly, our Father will provide for us, but that’s only the beginning of fatherhood. God is also a fun father! Yes, you read that correctly. He’s fun!

What good father doesn’t enjoy playing with his children? He swings them in circles in his arms. He gets down on the floor and plays with the toys and things that bring his children pleasure. He laughs with his children. He stirs their imagination. He dreams with them. He sips imaginary tea with his daughters. He builds sand forts with his sons. He takes them to the park and to museums and on vacation. He enjoys spending time with his children and he delights in what makes them happy.

Our God is a joyful God! He knows how to have a good time! And He knows how to show His children how to have a good time—how to enjoy this life He’s given us. So many of us have not experienced our Father in this way, and I suggest that this is largely due to the fact that we rarely come to God when things are going well in our lives. We bring Him our complaints, our needs, and our pain, but we’ve lost the gift of praise. We’ve lost the gift of enjoying God’s presence.

And we don’t have to look far to find our Father’s joy. But we do have to trust Him enough to handle the big things, so that we can take the time to enjoy the smaller, beautiful moments around us. For who of us, by worrying can make any lasting change? (Matthew 6:27) Our worry and control have separated us from the joy of the Lord, and while we can so easily see God as “our help in time of need” (Psalm 46:1), we so easily miss Him as the God who “sets our feet to dancing” (Psalm 30:11), who “gives joy for mourning” (Isaiah 61:3, Jeremiah 31:13), whose very presence made David dance and sing and say, “I will become even more undignified than this in the joy of my Father” (2 Samuel 6:22).

So not only does our Father provide for us, but He’s fun, and He gives us joy. Another important role of our Father is that of teacher. As a father carries primary responsibility to raise his children in the way they should go, our Father is continually teaching us and showing us the way. And this can be fun, like working with Daddy in his workshop, or watching how he shows love to his wife, or learning how to drive. It can also involve discipline and correction (Proverbs 3:12). Sometimes we need to be grounded for our own good, and other times we have to do things that we’d rather not do (like cleaning our room), but knowing what we need before we need it, our Father is wise to teach us what we need to know so that it becomes second nature to us and so we can excel in it when future trials come our way.

When we do excel, our Father is so pleased with us. He rejoices in our success. It’s like bringing a picture to Daddy that we painted with our fingers. His eyes light up, he smiles in delight, and then he hangs it on the refrigerator in a spot where everybody can see it! God loves when we do well, and rejoices with us.

And when we fail, He’s there with us still, and He loves us unconditionally. He helps us through the hard times, and He shows us how to walk through the valley. Sometimes He carries us, sometimes He leads us, and sometimes He pushes us, to show us how to “get back on the horse” and try again.

Fathers know, too, when to let go. And when we’re ready to step out on our own, He releases us, but He never abandons us. A father is thrilled when his child starts to crawl, and even more when his child takes his first steps while holding Daddy’s hands. But no father is satisfied for his child to stay there. He wants him to walk and run on his own. A father shows the way, and then releases the child to become like him in all his character and ability.

I love to ride bikes. Whenever I can, I like to get on my bike and go for a ride through the country. It’s invigorating, and it’s a time when I can quiet myself and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation around me. But there was a time when I had to learn to ride that bike. At first I had a tricycle, and eventually I graduated to a two-wheeler with training wheels. When I was finally ready to ride without the training wheels, my dad had to hold the seat and run alongside of me so I wouldn’t fall. I remember when he finally let go. I didn’t make it all that far before I wrecked, but he was still there to pick me up and help me try again.

It’s not comfortable when God lets go of the seat in our lives. It’s downright frightening, and we wonder where the grace went, where His presence went, and why things seem so much harder than they used to be. But our Father is releasing us to be more like Him. He’s training us and showing us how to carry on the business of the Kingdom. He’s teaching us to make right decisions and to walk on our own.

But releasing is not abandonment. He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). But He’s looking for a bride for His Son, not a puppet or a slave, and He delights in our individuality. He wants us to carry on the work of His Kingdom, not because He needs the help or because He doesn’t want to do it for Himself, but He gives us this gift because He loves us and wants us to know the joy and honor of His work, as we become more like Him. And He teaches us these things because He wants us to have children of our own. He wants us to pass on these lessons, particularly to those who are afraid or unaware to come to Him directly.

Our Father provides for us, He teaches us, and He releases us, and He’s also there to advise us. Good dads give good advice, and God wants to have the deep heart-to-heart conversations of a father with His children. He wants us to come to Him for help. He wants to know what’s going on in our lives. He wants to know how our day was. He wants to share the secrets of life with us, and He’s always there when we need Him (which is always, if you haven’t figured that out yet!).
 
When we’re in trouble, He protects us and defends us. When we’re in a fight for our lives, He fights for us. When we’re hurt, He heals us. When we’re lost, He helps us find our way. When we’re broke, He provides for us. He’s a good Father.

One of my biggest pet peeves with the Church today is when they make the cross the end-all of their faith instead of the beginning. Jesus came that we might know the Father, among other things, but because fatherhood is so hard for us to grasp—because we’ve seen our Father as unapproachable—we stop at our salvation and miss one of the ultimate goals of what Jesus came to do (to reunite us with our Father). We need to rejoice in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, we need to rejoice in our salvation, and then we need to honor our Savior by rejoicing in the Father who sent Him.

May you have the deep revelation of God as your Father today. May you experience His provision, His joy, His teaching, His protection, and the fullness of His presence today. And may you begin to see God and see yourself in a new way today, through the revelation of your great Daddy in Heaven.

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