~ GUEST BLOGGER Rev Richard White
A young man needs to see fatherhood modeled. As a young man I didn’t want to be like him my earthly father – dishonest at work, unfaithful in his marriage, abusive, and often dismissive of his two sons. Then my father-in-law entered my life. Ted was honest, hardworking, faithful, church-going and inclusive. I often thought, “I want to be like Ted.” Then God gave me a gift. He revealed what the perfect model of a father looks like, after I handed my life over to Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who brought me to the Scriptures where I found that perfect model – my Heavenly Father.
Everything I saw and read about my Heavenly Father inspired me. First, he showed me that he wanted me. I never felt that from my earthly father. Second, he showed me that he would meet every need I had, right down to loving my name. Third, he invited me to draw close to him. When my earthly father talked about God, it scared me. The truth is, my Heavenly Father embraces me, and embraces you too. This Father’s Day, I am reflecting on my Heavenly Father, the perfect model of fatherhood.
I’m not sure what my earthly father really thought about me. I tried to earn his love. It seemed futile. The Scriptures teach me that my Heavenly Father loved me and wanted me from the start. In Isaiah 64:8, God likens himself to a potter who molds and shapes each of us for a purpose. It’s as though he says, “You are precious to me!” Then there’s the story of Creation in Genesis. It is so dramatic and yet so rich in manly tenderness. If I’d created a person I might have used a bolt of cosmic lightening or a belch of magma from a volcano. The Genesis account pictures our Creator stooping down, sinking his hands into the soft red clay, kneading it, breathing into it, and forming “man.” Then, as the man sleeps, our Creator takes warm flesh from the man’s side and makes “woman” (Gen 1:26-27; 2:7; 5:1). I can almost see God’s smile, and feel his life-giving breath. It’s intimate. The prophet King David used a different metaphor to paint the same picture. He spoke about the Creator “forming” our “inmost being,” “knitting” us together in our “mothers’ wombs” and planning every precious day before we were even born (Ps 139:13-16; see also Jeremiah 1:5). As a father there were times when I would quietly enter the bedrooms of my children, pray over them, listen to their breath, and say “thank you” to my Heavenly Father. My Father wanted each of us. I wanted each of my children and showed them that.
I felt like a nuisance to my earthly father, but the Scriptures showed me my Heavenly Father delights in me…and in you too. He showers me with gifts every day. As I write this one of my grand-daughters is here with Linda in the kitchen. My family, my children and grandchildren, the essentials, the pleasures and amenities of my life are his daily gifts to me. I look across the road at the marsh, the creek, the waterfowl, the grasses and forest. I follow the forest trails past a beaver pond and the habitat of red-wing blackbirds. My Father provides for all these splendors. Surely he delights in it all (Matt 6:25-34). He also calls me his child (1 John 3:1), and tells me he chose me, adopting me into his family (Eph. 1:5). And just when I thought he couldn’t do more, he spoke through the prophet Isaiah saying he had tattooed the names of his children on the palm of his hands (Isaiah 49:15-16). And his delight in me will extend into eternity. He has a heavenly name reserved for me etched into a white stone (Rev 2:17)*. It’s a name that broadcasts his delight in each of his children across the span of Heaven!
My father never showed me his heart – he kept that hidden. It seemed dark, confused, and unfathomable. By contrast, my Heavenly Father invites me to come into relationship with him. He did that when he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). As Jesus walked with us, taught us, embraced us, reached out to the marginalized, and died on Calvary for us, he showed us the heart of our Heavenly Father. He wants us to know him. And incredibly, that same Heavenly Father invites us to call him by the most familiar of names – Abba, meaning “Daddy,” or “Pappa.” I imagine my Father inviting us to climb into his lap, lean against his breast, synchronise our heart beat with his, rest in his peace and say Abba – Daddy (Rom 8:15, Gal 4:6). That’s the kind of father I want to be.
Father’s Day used to be difficult for me. But God knew my pain, my fears, and my needs. He gave me a father-in-law who opened my eyes to godly fatherhood. Most importantly, God himself showed me the perfect example of fatherhood, himself and he shows me that every day. Thanks be to God!
* In criminal trials in the ancient world, when a defendant was pronounced “guilty,” he would receive a black stone. If he was found “innocent,” a white stone. The white stone in Revelation 2:17 says two things. First, God the Father has pronounced us “innocent” because the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Second, it suggests that God the Father will give each of us a name that reflects our character or designates what our ministry might be in Heaven… the many examples of name-change in the Bible establish this pattern .
- graphic by Bill Davenport at freeimages.com