The Love Of A Father
Written by Erin Lamb
I love my parents. I have a great love for my dad. I love that my earthly parents took me under their wings and filled my life with love, wisdom and great things. They pointed me to the ultimate parent, God.
God is the perfect parent. All throughout scripture He is referred to as Father or by an endearing term Abba. However, If we look at our earthly parents we see a picture of a parent that is not perfect. The only perfect human that ever lived or will ever live is Jesus. If we look to God as Father we see someone who embodies both the mother and father characteristics of a parent. God’s love for His children is nurturing, caring, and kind. God is a caregiver and caretaker. God’s love for His children provides protection and also discipline. He is also the perfect provider. He is complete in Himself and represents to His children the perfect parent. He lacks nothing.
Throughout life there are times we misunderstand God because we place His abilities and functions into a box. We can miss some of the benefits of being His child. There are stages to our spiritual growth just as there are stages to our physical growth. The goal is to cooperate with the perfect parent so that we grow.
The Stages of Growth/God’s Parenting:
Only a babe: When a child is first born is it very dependent on the parent. The child is helpless. When we first encounter God we too are helpless and God offers an abundance of grace, help and constant guidance so we can develop. He often answers prayers quickly and does many things to show that He is present. Things begin to change as we grow. Just like a child with human parents, He teaches us to feed ourselves, to learn from experiences and sends us out to participate in a world that is challenging. However, He never leaves our side. His goal is to teach us while being with us. During this phase we may have misunderstandings of God and a battle with our emotions. There may be many tears shed during this phase because we want God to give us what we need and want, in a hurry. Our heart cries out “feed me, love me, clothe me, take care of me, and be with me.”
Toddler to adolescent: From toddler to adolescent there is battle between what we want and what God tells us. We begin to assert ourselves and push against the boundaries God has set. Our favorite phrases are “what about me”? and “hey look at me.” or “look what I can do.” During this phase we may seek our own wisdom above His. We may challenge God with our inflated sense of self. We may look more in the mirror than at Him. We may respond with hurt feelings when God says no or desires for us to learn. Often God says no. When He says no it is because He has something better in mind and our growth is important to Him. He is perfect in wisdom and truth. He is also enjoys watching us learn, laugh, play and learn to do things without constant feedback. He is perfect in understanding and compassion as well, knowing where we are and what we are able to understand.
There is discipline in walking with Him and being His child. He disciplines and corrects those He loves. So at this stage in the growth process He begins to teach on a deeper level and discipline where appropriate. At first there is a nudge in our spirits that something is not right and needs to change. If we fail to listen then He repeats Himself and uses circumstances to get us back on track or back to listening to Him. It is in those moments we can choose to listen and grow, or not to listen and miss His best for our lives. He never stops loving us while we are rebelling or even having tantrums. He simply knows that what He has is always better that what we can generate on our own. He will keep working to guide us back to truth. It is up to us to yield. He loves us enough to let us wander around the wilderness until we reach the point where we acknowledge we need His help. When we turn around and call out for our Dad. He comes running with open arms.
Examples from real life: A loving human parent would never give a toddler the keys to their car and tell him/her to drive to the store. Why? Because that parent knows that the child is not capable or able to. The parent also knows the child is not ready for that responsibility and it is dangerous. Many times God will say no because it is something we are not ready for and cannot handle. It does not mean never, it simply means not now. The parent allows the child to grow physically and mentally before giving them great responsibility.
A loving human parent also would not send their child into a situation to be completely destroyed. Nor would a loving parent abuse or inflict pain on them for no reason. Many times people blame God for things that are a result of the sin in the world and not God. He is love. Even His discipline is catered to the individual. He is slow to anger and abounding in love. Every dangerous situation you see in the bible with a child of God (listening to God and adhering to His guidance), God provided a way for that person to not be ultimately destroyed. There was a rescue plan and/or a redemption plan. Job was given double for what He lost. Jesus was given a seat at the right hand of the Father and a name above all names. God does everything with purpose in mind. I may not understand all of what He does, but I know that He has a plan. His plan is perfect. I refuse to blame Him for something that is a result of the wickedness of the world. He may have not prevented some evil things from happening, but He is not evil. There is no evil in Him. He is a God of justice, meaning He sets all wrong things right. However woven through our history is a redemption plan and a plan for forgiveness. For us His name is Jesus. So no person has to be ultimately destroyed. God sent His love down to save mankind. I know that even then things He allows to happen, He will use for the good of His children. He heals, He restores, and He redeems.
Adulthood: God knows how long it will take and what to do so that we can grow up. He is not impatient like we are. He knows what to do and how to do it. He knows that the process of sanctification (becoming more like Him) is a journey. We are continually learning. In the area of spiritual growth we learn that we don’t always feel God but we believe that He is there. We learn our prayers may not be answered immediately, but we trust that God heard us. As we grow we learn that we need Him more than when we first started because we are hungry to know more about Him. We need more of His Presence in our lives to sustain us. Unlike earthly parents that we seek independence from, God becomes a greater necessity as we grow. We begin to sit with Him and want to learn from His experiences. We no longer fight His wisdom and place a higher value on our own. We become less dependent on our emotions and more dependent on the Holy Spirit. We begin to imitate Him. Obedience though still costly and a struggle, seems a bit easier. We trust in Him more and more. We are less focused on ourselves and more focused on finding out His agenda. We long to be right in the footsteps of Jesus. As we mature the fruit of spirit becomes abundant. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit is something that cannot be faked. It comes with growth, abiding, listening, and pruning.
So I pray that we (you and I) enjoy having the perfect parent and receive His love. He knows what is best for us. He does not give up loving us. When we are 90 years old He will still look at us and smile. His heart will say, “That’s my baby.” No matter my age my parents have this way of looking at me like I am 5 sometimes or reliving some of the silly things I did as a child. In their eyes I am their baby. Though they don’t treat me like an infant, I have seen the love in their eyes is same love they had the day I was born. God is bragging on you in heaven. He is showing your picture around. He has all the time in the world to devote to growing us and displaying His goodness through us. Whether we decide to yield or not, He will still love us. I encourage grow with Him, though. He has so many wonderful adventures to hand over to us, when we are ready. He has great plans for our lives. He has responsibilities to give us that will rock our socks off! He wants us to never forget we are deeply loved.