A section of a recent book I read compared a daughter’s loving relationship with her father to our relationship to the Lord. It’s an apt comparison with many parallels: resting in his love, asking freely for needs and even wants, trusting his protection, etc.
But I thought of someone to whom I had given this same book to read. Her relationship with her father was nonexistent for twenty years (by his choice) and abusive before that. I hoped this ideal father-daughter description in the book did not bring her pain.
When the word “father” comes with painful baggage, the thought of God as a father is not necessarily comforting until we learn the ways He is different.
Someone told me once that it’s impossible for a person with a poor father figure to have a right view of God as a Father. I disagree. If that were the case, none of us would have a right view of God because none of us has a perfect father. Even the very best of earthly fathers is flawed in some way, though some are certainly better than others.
However, I think we all have an ideal father in mind. As a child I had an image in my mind of a father as a kindly, soft-spoken man in a cardigan sweater and slippers carrying a newspaper and a pipe. That was not my father at all. Years later I realized that mental image came from a 1960s TV show.
C. S. Lewis once said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Similarly, I think our longing for an ideal father figure is a reflection of our need and desire for our heavenly Father.
If your father has been a gracious and godly example, thank God for that and rejoice in your father’s reflection of Him. If your earthly father fell far short of perfect, thank God that your heavenly Father never will. He always welcomes His children, loves them, corrects them, provides for them, protects them.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
Psalm 27:10, NIV
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:11-14, ESV