A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,[a]
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
In the summer of 2016, I was pacing around praying in my room I and I felt God tugging on my heart; I could tell He was dealing with the pride and stubbornness inside of me. I was suddenly brought me to my knees and in that moment I prayed one of the most humbling prayers I had prayed up until that point, "God please be my dad..."
I grew up for the majority of my childhood with a father who was present but did not have a presence in my life. My mom carried the load for the household and the family while my father was more so distant in regard to parenting and intimacy with me. I didn’t realize that this had any effect on me until I got into my teenage years and became hard-headed and stubborn. I always had an issue with relationships with men and authority figures because I felt weak and inadequate. I thought they were always wanting to correct me or teach me something I should know so I stayed away from intimacy with men as much as possible. Unfortunately, that bled into my relationship with Jesus.
I always believed in some type of God or at least a moral set of standards and knew about who Jesus was. I made a profession of faith at around 13 and baptized a few times since then but I didn’t really know God. I didn’t know He could be known like that. I saw Him as some angry man in the sky who was random and inconsistent. From what I heard of Him in church, He was loving and gentle and many of His representatives portrayed that. The disconnect with me was that my view of men and my earthly father painted a distorted picture of God and that’s where I derived my theology from. I didn’t think He was personal and intimate nor did I think He WANTED to get to know me. I know of God as the Creator, I knew of God the Sovereign ruler, I knew of God THE father but not as MY father.
Soon after I prayed that prayer asking God to be my dad, He began to move mightily in my life. I had a one on one encounter with Him at a youth conference and was set free from many shackles and chains in my life. I had these affections for God I NEVER felt before! The trees were popping out, the sky was illuminated, people and nature were so beautiful to me and I had overflowing love and joy in my heart; Twas AMAZING …but it didn’t last very long. I soon fell back into sin and became less and less passionate about Jesus. I fell into legalism and religion to earn His love again and He continues to pull me out of it. Being the sovereign and good God that He is, He continues to pursue me as reveal Himself in the most perfect of ways. He truly is, protector, provider, sustainer, redeemer, and so much more
As I drew closer to God as my Father, I began to see some of why He does what He does and asks us to do certain things. For example, a loving Father would be delighted in His children exercising love in praying for their enemies as well as not grumbling or complaining. It also makes sense for God to answer our prayers when we stand in agreement with another believer because as brothers and sisters we SHOULD want what’s best for one another if we really love each other.
The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is an incredible narrative and depiction of God’s heart towards us. The prodigal took his inheritance from his kingly father (which was a horrible offense in that culture) and squandered all of his riches away. He was supposed to be royalty, yet because of his decision and irrational way of living, he was out eating with the hogs and in misery. He woke up one day and decided to return to his father and accept going home to be his servant rather than his son. As the boy was coming home, the father met the son halfway and put the family ring on him and dressed him up in his royal clothing. That’s amazing! This man was ready to be a slave to his father but instead he was met with love and forgiveness and made a son again. His sonship was never revoked and God was waiting for him to come back home, like He is with us.
Another amazing fact about God being our Father, is that when He to be a Father to the Fatherless, He adds on a special bonus by setting us in a family. Psalm 68:5-6 . God has since blessed me with two spiritual fathers and a spiritual mother and brothers and sisters who truly characterize His love. Many times, God uses people to bless people! When we enter the family of God we get to know what it really means to belong and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
The first time I heard God tell me that He is proud of me, I wept. Those three words, “I’m proud of you” really do something for a man, especially if they didn’t have someone tell it to them growing up. I felt like as many times as I failed God, there’s no way He could really still love me, but somehow He does! That should give us all the more reason to love Him back and to serve Him. With men, our pride is what gets in the way of us being vulnerable and inmate with God and experiencing Him on a deeper level. We are trained to be self-sufficient and hard but we only hard ourselves because the hardness doesn’t leave any room for love to permeate our souls.
From time to time I do still struggle with seeing God as my loving Father, especially when I fall in sin or have not been spending an adequate enough time with Him. Often, I feel I need to do FOR God instead of being with Him but that only leads to burnout and religion. In His book Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship, Jack Frost states, “Intimacy precedes fruitfulness ….and the Great Commandment precedes the Great Commission” . These quotes were profound to me in that I always thought that our service to God is what pleased Him. Now I see that was pleases Him is our obedience out of love for Him that comes through an intimate relationship.
Without love for God then our works for Him become acts done in order to gain favor or approval and fulfillment of religious duty. God wants us to find joy in doing His work and not feel burdened by it. We should serve Him because we love Him and not because we feel we HAVE to.
When it comes to God as or father, especially with grown men, we feel we don’t need a father telling us what to do. We got it on our own right? Wrong? In God’s eyes, we may grow up and raise our own families, lead countries, conqueror territories, amass riches and large followings, but we will never stop being children. Not necessarily in the form of being childish, because God wants us all to mature, but we won’t ever stop needing Him as Father. He loves us, corrects us, provides for us, disciplines us, and carries us through. We can’t cry to our bank accounts, we can’t be held and comforted by our social media following, a new car or another trophy can’t heal your internal wounds and make you whole and flawed people and more relationships wont’ bring us the love and joy we were created for. Only our Creator who is a good Father can provide those things.
What if God doesn’t want servants to do His bidding? What if He really is a loving Father who wants a family? What if He’s seeking you out to be His son/daughter right now? You won’t know until you seek Him for yourself and then you’ll taste and see.
At this time in my life, I’m actually in a season where I feel like I need to seek God again in a more intimate and a deeper way. One where it’s just me and Him and I can truly experience what it means to be fathered and learning how to be a son. I’m not where I should be with Abba yet but I know He loves me and won’t ever stop pursuing me. He’s made Himself known and now He wants me to give me more of myself. You can seek Him and find Him more too. Call out to Him and see how amazing He is. Seek Abba, find Abba, He’s more than we could ever hope for.
I also learned in this time that having mercy on our own earthly fathers and male authority figures is necessary because, well, maybe they really just didn’t know how to be a father. If you don’t know how it feels to be a son, how could you know how to be a father? This isn’t the case for everyone, but it’s something to consider. We can only give what we have and if our parents weren’t parented in a loving, godly way, then we can’t completely blame them for how they treat us. Just something to think about. Forgive when needed and reconcile with caution and boundaries.