Sunday, October 6, 2013

It’s been half a lifetime ago, and more, since I first heard the suggestion that our experience with our earthly father shapes our concept of God as Father. I was smug, then, thinking how well I did to sharpen my focus on God as Father, through the lenses of two father relationships, one abusive and smothering, the other honorable but emotionally distant. I knew already that God was the perfect Father. Perfectly good, never abusive, always present.

Never mind that the very term “father” triggered a kneejerk reaction in me. Defensiveness. Doubting. Stopping for far too long to examine and question every time I felt God asking something of me, or whenever I felt probed by something in Scripture.

This, despite my knowing that God is good. That He’s here, and He loves us.

I knew, but did I believe? Did I really trust?

And there, I have found over the years—over and OVER and over—is the kicker. Everything boils down to trust.

It’s been nearly 40 years since I first stepped out on this journey with God, and just recently I realized I was having yet another kneejerk reaction to the concept of Him as Father.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Human hearts and minds are so very slow to change, to be molded to truth. And sometimes, even under the best of circumstances, the rebellion in a heart is so deeply entrenched that even where an outwardly good relationship with a human father existed, the concept of masculine authority is so abhorrent that a person simply cannot accept it.

Others have had loving, honorable fathers, and yet met with enough abuse by others to make any man suspect in their eyes. Completely understandable, and the point isn’t to shore up human authority, or the worthiness of men to be respected.

The point is that God is above all that. Would He even be God if He weren’t? This is a being that, unlike the gods of ancient Greece, Rome, the Nordic lands, or dozens of other mythologies, does not operate on lustful impulse or caprice. He is all wise, all knowing, all good—and patient beyond what we can imagine. Unlike human fathers, He doesn’t tire of our questions, our requests, our needs. (I am so glad of that!)

And it is He who laid down His own life for us, that we could be reconciled to Him. As I heard one Bible teacher say this week, would He do that, love us enough to redeem us from our sins, and not also come alongside us and lead us in this life?

Who else, then, is worthy of our ultimate trust?

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103, NKJV)

“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
Who have been upheld by Me from birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you. (Isaiah 46, NKJV)


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