Day 13 — Knowing God as my Father
“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 Jn. 3:1
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” Jn. 1:12
There’s a mural in the entrance hallway of my Christian elementary school which illustrates Jesus walking in a garden with children from all over the world. I loved that painting. As students we would see it every day we went to school because it covered the entire wall. As a student, I wanted to be one of those kids looking up to Jesus and being near Him.
And it was to Jesus I learned to pray and it was Jesus I wanted to follow all my life. But God the Father — He was distant far away in the heavens. It wasn’t until my 30s that I learned I could know God as my Heavenly Father.
We inherited a bunch of Christian children’s books left behind by other missionary families. And interestingly some of these pictures books illustrated God as an old white man with a long beard.
I was reminded that this was how I also viewed God during my growing up years. I’ve since tossed these books out.
Looking back on my faith journey, I have to say that coming to know God as my Heavenly Father was and is one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve ever encountered.
Encountering God as Father changed everything for me. For the first time in my life, I could really see myself as a child, as a daughter of God. The deep longing I had in my heart for my earthly father’s approval finally found a source where this could truly be met.
As children we look to our parents for our identity. As toddlers we imitate them and try to walk in their shoes. We are motivated by our parent’s look of approval — the “atta girls” nourish our soul and physically help our brain develop.
To live in this world and know where you belong begins with knowing our identity. And if we’ve been blessed with a home that’s provided not only the physical but spiritual nourishment then we’ll grow up secure in our identity.
A child finds his/her identity first and foremost in their father. It’s our father’s name we carry with us.
Making peace with your earthly father
And this journey of knowing God as my Heavenly Father has meant that I’ve had to make peace with my earthly father. Now that I’m in my fourth decade of life with three kids of my own, I know full well that being a parent is no easy task and that there are no perfect parents.
My father was and is an amazing man of faith and yet, he could not be the dad I wanted him to be. The key life choices I’ve made, hurt our relationship deeply. I know that on this side of eternity I probably won’t get the affirmation I crave from him. Coming to terms with this has been a long journey — one I still travel. Even so, I know that in so many ways, I’ve been blessed by a father who did his best to love me.
Over the years in ministry, I’ve heard so many sad stories of absent fathers and dads who’ve hurt their kids. But as I wrote about here, the only way out of the pain is forgiveness and extending grace we ourselves have received. True healing in our hearts has to begin with forgiveness.
Our earthly fathers may have let us down and hurt us. But our Heavenly Father will always be there for us and with us. He invites us to trust Him with our lives. We no longer have to protect or defend ourselves. He’s got our back and holds us in the palm of His hands.
Today, we can choose to be His child and rest in Him.