Heavenly Love On An Earthly Plane
I lost my father at age five when my parents divorced. The bond of love, trust and friendship never developed between us in those key growing years. I missed him a lot but gradually came to accept what had happened. Then I became a Christian and a few years later began a journey to heal my heart of the woes of a dysfunctional family. Although, I had given my heart to Jesus, I had difficulty relating to God as my loving, heavenly father.
I bravely started the journey my psychologist likened to the peeling of an onion where each layer of hurt was discovered and healed. In my third year, the final unravelling took place and it was a pain so deep that materialized in a flood of tears and then an explosion of anger. I raged and beat a large cushion until the anger was spent and then I saw the deepest pain hidden inside me for years was about the loss of my father.
This revelation heralded a journey of forgiving my parents, seeking to build a relationship of love and trust with my father, and learning to embrace my heavenly father. Today, the love of God is an unshakeable truth, a sanctuary my life rests in and I see so clearly that it was God’s hand all along leading me to Him.
Below is an anonymous blog that came my way via email. I share it with you because many of us have struggled with our fathers. Some are absent from our lives, others sow seeds of anger or neglect. Some fathers, though they love their child, are simply too busy in their careers to invest the time needed to bond and build the love and trust their child needs.
~ Elizabeth Ellis ~
I Called Him Father…(Anonymous Blog)
For years the word stuck in my throat. The six letters that Jesus used so often, seemed unimaginable to me. Father. A term worse than a swear-word – a title that made my skin crawl.
For years my father hurt me. For years his words blighted my life. “I wish you’d never been born” – “You disgust me” – “I hate you” – “Why can’t you do anything right?” – “Just get out of my sight”. It’s not what a father is supposed to say but it’s what he did say. What he said most days. It’s what he meant from the depths of his heart. Soon I learned to shudder whenever I heard the word, “father”. I couldn’t say it. I couldn’t think about it. I couldn’t love it – couldn’t love him. People would call it my “baggage”. I just called it “my life”.
Sometimes fathers get things badly wrong and when they do, people crumble. I just pushed it all to the back of my mind. Then I became a Christian. The joy of salvation. The wonder of the cross. The beauty of forgiveness. The hope of glory. What an astonishing gift the gospel is! But amid my awe and thankfulness there was a rising sense of panic. Now I had a new father …
What was he going to be like? Was it all going to end in tears again? My human father loved me when I was born – the hatred built up over the ensuing years. Now I’d been born again, was there a risk history was going to repeat itself? Would God become fed up with my fallibility? Would he reject me too? I couldn’t take the risk … I wouldn’t take the risk.
For years I operated with one person of the Trinity on lock-down. I relied on the Son – got excited about the work of the Spirit and shunned the Father. I didn’t feel I could open that door. I even missed out the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer when we said it in church. My feelings were that strong. Not that anyone ever really noticed …
It wasn’t until one particular Bible study on the Fatherhood of God that my feelings bubbled over. “Why do we have to keep banging on about God being our Father?” I blurted. Thankfully the shocked silence soon morphed into prayer. And so began a journey. A journey of many years, many Bible studies, many tears, many moments of prayer.
I discovered …
- God the Father knows that human fathers struggle to get parenting right – it’s OK not to believe what our parents have said if it goes against the instruction of the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
- God the Father is sovereign and independent – he doesn’t merely go along with what our humans parents say. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Psalm 27:10
- God the Father is not to blame for the wrong things my father did. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16
- God the Father is strong and dependable – he protects those who are vulnerable, including those who have suffered pain within the family. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5
- God the Father is perfect and he does not share characteristics with poor human fathers – only the good characteristics of human fathers can help us get a glimpse of who God truly is. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:13
- God is not mean and he never will be – everything lovely in my life is from him. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
- God the Father’s gifts include the gift of salvation – Jesus may have won it on the cross, but ultimately all that grace comes from our heavenly Dad, salvation doesn’t work without him. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3
- God the Father is my Father from the moment I begin to follow Jesus – there’s no opt-out clause, his adoption is real and eternal. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:2
- God the Father pours forgiveness into the lives of sinners – and enables us to forgive those who have hurt us. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
- God the Father will always be my perfect Father – and the love that comes with that is extraordinary. See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
And now? I love to call him Father. When I have things about which to praise, I love to share things with my Father above. When I have things about which to be afraid, I long to run into my Father’s arms. When things confuse me, I actively seek my Father’s wisdom. It took a while, but I called him Father … and I know I’m safe in his arms.