Our Father Who Art in Heaven

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Every year, Father’s Day comes and goes.  For some, it is a time to celebrate the “best man they know”; for others, it brings up painful memories of fathers who were absent, distant, or abusive.

Fathers come in all shapes and varieties—they view their role as fathers differently. I have had friends whose fathers believed that their primary role was to provide, even to the point of absence in their family and distance from their children. I have had others whose fathers simply weren’t there at all, and others who believed that their primary role was to love, bless and raise their children.

Throughout the Bible, we learn that God is our Heavenly Father – but depending on our experiences with our earthly fathers, our views of who our Heavenly Father is may be vastly different. A couple years ago, I was a member of a Bible study with several wonderful women. We were discussing our views of God, and it never had before occurred to me how different they could be.

I remember describing God as loving, accessible; a Father who wanted to be with me, spend time with me, hear about my day, and who cared deeply for me. One of the other girls described Him as royal, distant, a provider who would care for her needs but didn’t care too much for her everyday concerns. Another described Him somewhere in between – holy, righteous, loving but distant, approachable but still royalty.

At first I felt compelled to argue, as if their views were somehow wrong. But as we discussed, we realized that we understand God as our Father through the lenses of our own fathers and that, too, our Heavenly Father had elements of all that we described.  None of us had the whole picture, but none of us were fully wrong either.

Regardless of your experiences and your memories with your own father, whether he left you wounded or not, my prayer for all of us is that we understand truth about our Heavenly Father.

Truth: Our Heavenly Father is royalty. Even as much as Western culture teaches us to view God as a teddy bear, the reality is that our God is the King. “For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be held in awe above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.” (1 Chronicles 16:25-27)

Truth: Even as much as God is royalty, our Heavenly Father also knows us intimately. “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar . . . For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb . . . My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139)

Truth: Our Heavenly Father is to be feared, revered, and respected. “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul . . . For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.” (Deuteronomy 10:12, 17)

Truth: Our Heavenly Father takes pleasure in spending time with us and communing with us. “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” (Song of Solomon 2:14)

Truth: Our Heavenly Father wants to hear our requests and to give us good gifts. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened . . . If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

Truth: Our Heavenly Father loves us deeply and wants to have relationship with us. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

I have been blessed with an earthly father who loves me deeply, who loves to spend time with me, and has modeled well what it means to be a caring, present father. But regardless of whether your experiences with your own father were positive or negative, we must remember to ask what is the TRUTH about our Father in heaven. While our earthly fathers reflect some of the Heavenly Father’s characteristics, HE is so much more. HE is majestic, fearful, and royal. HE also takes pleasure in spending time with you. HE knows you intimately. HE wants to hear your requests and to give you good gifts. And HE loves you deeply and wants to have deep relationship with you.

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