The Father Connection
From personal experience and from a multitude of conversations, I see a very strong correlation between the type of relationship we have or had with our earthly father and the type of relationship we have with God . . . initially.
Unfortunately, many of our dads have given us negative ideas of what a father is: selfish, controlling, neglectful, abusive, overbearing, pushover, passive, and tyrannical. These poor images are often obstacles to overcome when we are seeking the truth of the character of God. Our dads’ traits create a framework of what a father means to us. Initially, we place that structure onto God, good or bad.
If your dad abandoned you, you believe God will leave you, if he was difficult to please, you think God is never satisfied, if he was distant, God seems inaccessible, if he gave conditional love, God will withdraw His love, if he was judgmental, God is seen as critical, and if he rejected you, you believe God will. On the other hand, if your dad gave you security, God is secure, if he protected you, God is your shelter, if he gave unreserved love, God gives unconditionally, if he was accepting, God will receive you no matter what, and if he was involved, God is too. Our challenge is to seek who God truly is and not what our particular experience of a dad dictates.
Whether we call him dad, daddy, pop, pops, poppa, father, sir or nothing because he wasn’t there, we all have dads who made a tremendous impact on how we view God. To understand that our natural inclination is to put our dad-filter onto God is the first step in learning the truth about Him. Without this self-reflection, we walk around unknowingly believing misconceptions about God. We will relate to Him not as He is but as our filter dictates. Our beliefs are everything and therefore it is important to abide in the Word to get to know Him as He is. It is essential to our lives, because God is life, to remove our old dusty filters and replace it with the pure, true reality.
John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Understanding and acknowledging the impact that our dads have on our perception of God helps us to move closer to understanding who He is and therefore gain the relationship we were meant to have with Him. His intimate presence in our lives is His desire for us and to realize that most us have misunderstood who He is as a father is a monumental step to a fulfilling that purpose.
I have an amazing father. I am very blessed because he instilled in me trust, security, mercy, and love, which made it easier for me to believe and accept these traits in my relationship with God. However, it doesn’t require a good dad to be intimate with God. I have friends whose fathers were distant and negligent and God has filled a very special void in their lives creating an incredible bond. We didn’t choose our fathers. God chose them for us regardless of how they were to draw us to Him.
The intense hunger for an idyllic dad was placed in us by God to be ultimately for Him. Therefore, we are to seek Him to fill this role because He is the only One who can. If we continue to look to our earthly dads to fulfill it or have suppressed the desire out of continued disappointment we will never find what our souls hunger for. God created us with this yearning that we might grope for Him.
Just realizing this connection doesn’t change it but it is an essential step because it puts our hearts in a seeking mode. We have to personally dive into God’s Word and learn who He is. Our heavenly Father far surpasses any concept we have a dad and He wants to reveal this side of Himself to each one of us in a personal way. As always, our part is to seek.
Take a piece of paper divide it into two columns. Write down all the characteristics of your earthly father. On the other side write down all the characteristics you currently believe about God and be honest. Don’t write what you have heard, write what you believe. How does He respond when you do something good? How does He respond when you do something bad? What does He think about you? And so on.
Then start seeking out who God truly is in the Word. Write down the verses where He is telling you who He is as your perfect eternal Father. Try not to filter but come with an open heart to know Him as He is. If we seek, we will find.