Walking in the Father’s love did not come naturally to me. Because I had seen my Heavenly Father through the lenses of my earthly experience – many of them hurtful – I had a distorted view of His Fatherhood. Whenever I heard the words “God is my Father”, a number of emotions and images came to my mind, some good and many bad. Mixed with biblical images of forgiveness, protection, acceptance, and love, were feelings of betrayal, failure, a dictatorial demeanor, and absence. I could relate to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but I was incapable of living and trusting my Heavenly Father, which He desired. In essence, I was missing out on what every human being needs – deep, personal, fatherly love, protection and care. Walking through life with an inner knowledge of His love, was far from me.
I am eternally thankful that all that has changed through a number of incredible encounters I have had with the Heavenly Father. He revealed Himself to me and peeled away layers of betrayal, hurt, mistrust and failure. Reading and sitting under teachings on this subject, and God bringing certain fatherly men into my life, has also helped me to restore a biblical understand of Father God, our Heavenly Father.
There are three aspects of the Father’s love that, I believe, if taken to heart, can cure the worst cases of heartache and crushed spirits.
1. Faithfulness: Everyone needs someone who believes in him or her, a person who is faithful and who can be counted on. God intended that fathers fulfill that role. A faithful father has two traits: a) He is a man of his word – he remembers what he promises and does his best to fulfill it. b) A faithful father is always there when you need him most. Faithful fathers instill confidence and security in their children. Unfortunately, even the best dads are not capable of perfect faithfulness. They are finite and have only limited resources. But, our Heavenly Father is without limit. “God who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Cor 1:9). The Father can be trusted to what He has promised.
2. Loving Authority: When Michelle and I have prayed for some people with serious spiritual or emotional problems, we have often uncovered abuse from their fathers or authority figures. I think a greater problem is the breaking of children’s spirits from criticism, rebuke, nagging, and cruel discipline. Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us that discipline from the Father is a sign that He loves us. “My son, do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, He punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” If out of reaction to childhood abuse, we run from God’s loving discipline, we will miss out on – “…a harvest of righteousness and peace, for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
3. Generous Blessing: In a book by Gary Smalley and John Trent called The Blessing, they state that parental blessing has a profound effect on present and future relationships. They define parental blessing as genuine acceptance and say that when it is missing, people strive to find it, usually with disastrous results. Men and women who do not know their father’s love often fall into immorality. In part, they hope to find fatherly tenderness, love, and affection that they missed (or avoided) at home. However, immorality never satisfies and always leads to ruin. Some people are driven towards being workaholics as they look for blessings they never received at home. Always striving for acceptance, they never feel satisfied that they have measured up. At the root of genuine acceptance is unconditional love, which is based on the Father’s love for His children and not on their performance or desire to please. See Ephesians 2:4-5
The parable of the lost son in Luke 15 describes our Heavenly Fa- ther with remarkable simplicity. He is full of goodness, gracious- ness, mercy and abounding love. He rejoices over the return of the lost, and He makes available to us heavenly blessings as we turn to Him in faith. That is the true picture of our Heavenly Father and the kind of relationship He is inviting us to enjoy with Him.