Last week, I wrote, “I wanted a father’s love.” Even at sixty years old, there is part of me that misses a good father and depictions of good fathering touch me. So I was touched by the stories of the men of the Courageous movie. Four cops and one laborer show how five fathers’ characters are changed or exposed after a tragedy. Sherwood Baptist’s fourth film follows an abandoning father, a distracted father, a crooked father, and two heroic, courageous fathers.
Most of us had one of those kinds of fathers. Many children rarely or never see their fathers. Some have criminal fathers. Others grew up with fathers whose attention was elsewhere even when they were home. Few of us have heroic fathers, fathers who reliably protected, provided, confronted and comforted us.
And yet, Father-God is a heroic father who wants to father each one of us. Do we believe that? Our experiences with our first authorities shape our expectations of Father-God, the ultimate authority. If you want to attach to God as a father, start with identifying what kind of father you had. Was he there? What kind of eye contact did he give you? Did he give you hugs? Were those hugs safe? How was his integrity? Did he do what he said he would do? Did he keep his promises?
Then, compare those answers to how you believe God deals with you. Is he walking beside you? Is he looking at you with eyes of compassion? Do you sit on the couch with his arm around you? Do you feel safe with him? Has he done what he promised he would do?
We want to believe God is good, good in every way and at all times. We affirm it intellectually, but do we know his goodness in our experience? Spiritual growth is that continual movement toward merging our heads and our hearts.
While it’s easy to become a Christian, to say the words, it’s not easy to go deep with God. Depth takes a relentless pursuit of our own hearts and of God’s heart. Depth, like fatherhood, takes courage.
Father, give us the courage to know ourselves and to know you.