How Great a Father’s Love

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

1 John 3:1

Sunday is a National holiday where we celebrate and honor fathers and fatherhood.  For many people there will be brunches, barbecues, and summer fun but for others it may feel like there is not much to celebrate.

Fatherless

The Fatherless Generation

We live in what is called “The Fatherless Generation”.   The US Census Bureau reported that  23.6% of US children (17.4 million) lived in a fatherless home (2014).  Millions more live with emotionally absent fathers.

Many of us may not have a healthy relationship with our father or the father of our children.  Maybe we had an absintee father, or a father who was around physically but was harsh or unloving – where communication did not exist (emotionally absent), or maybe our father was gone to soon.  For many of us we had a father whom we desperately sought approval or love but never received it.

We cannot change our past and we cannot wish ourselves a new father or a different childhood.  As we grow older we can see how our relationship with our father can reach out and impact other areas of our lives.  It can have an impact on our relationships with a significant other and …

our relationship with our father will influence our relationship with our Father (God).     

 Excess Baggage

Moving Past our Past

Growing up my dad was very unpredictable, specifically, his mood swings, we never really knew what dad we were getting that day (he was later diagnosed as bipolar).  He expressed love in his own way, but he was a man that lead with fear.  It kept me out of a lot of trouble (not all trouble – but a lot).  I remember watching my dad place his interest and decisions above our own.  He was selfish in a lot of ways, generous in others.  Many times he broke promises and did not fulfill his commitments.  As I got older I was able to forgive my dad.  I wrote about that in another post, “Letting Go“.   Forgiveness led to a restored relationship but it did not remove the baggage that I carried.

I came to faith after college.  When I came to faith, I did not realize I was carrying  a lot of baggage.  My relationship with my father and it was impacting my relationship with my Father (God).

It was very easy for me to relate to the God of Judgement.   Fearing God and His wrath was easy.  As I learned more about God, I longed for the “check-lists” to help me be a “good Christian”, to prove my value, one that was capable of following all of the rules.  It was difficult for me to trust God, to trust that He had my best interest in mind.  I read the scriptures that told me He did and I tried my best to believe it, but ultimately I kept control of my life.

Are you familiar with the story of the prodigal son?  Luke, the historian, tells of a story that Jesus shared.
The Fathers Love


The Prodigal Son

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[b] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his servants,[d] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Luke 15:11-32


Home sweet home

Returning Home

For many years I related to the older brother.  I would think why would the father be so kind to such an irresponsible child.  I thought the person who did “everything right” should receive the reward and not the person who lived foolishly.  Have you ever felt like that person?  We want everything in the world to be fair … but life isn’t “fair”.  Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.

It took time for me to see the beauty of this story.  As a parent I can understand the joy of the father to have a lost child return home.   The story reads, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him”.  This father was waiting for his child to return.  He did not know when he would return but he hoped, he endured and he kept watch – and when he saw his son his heart was full and he rejoiced. 

Why did Jesus share this story?  I believe it is because He wanted us to understand the love and compassion that the Father has for us. He is our father and we are His children.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

1 John 3:1

Life is not perfect, life is not easy, and life is not fair.  We may feel justified in our emotions towards the fathers in our lives but this is a time to look past imperfections and offer grace (when possible and safe to do so).

This Father’s Day no matter what kind of relationship we have with the fathers in our lives, let’s chose to honor the Father (God).  Let’s pray that we will begin to let go of the excess baggage and see the love that God has for us – His genuine love, compassion and care over our lives.  He truly has our best interest in mind and He is a gracious God who is waiting to welcome us home with open arms. While we are still a long way off – HE IS WAITING!

 So Great Gods Love

Always,

Misty

 

 

 

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