God the Father

Father’s day is celebrated around the world, in various ways and with various spellings. The relationship each of us have with our own father is unique, for many reasons. We each define who our father is, what his duties as a father are, and how well he fulfills those duties. Some people spend time reflecting on their own responsibilities as children, and factor themselves into the equation. This all falls under the umbrella of understanding our father, fatherhood, and ourselves. Considering that at least one quarter of Americans have sought Mental Health assistance and folks most in need of help never seek it, I believe it is safe to say in general we do not know the participants in the father/child relationship well enough to make many judgements.

I know my children do not think I am a good father. I know many of the reasons why they think so, and the level of maturity they possessed when they made the decision, as well as the level of maturity I had hoped would reverse the impression. They haven’t gotten there yet, so I can only assume the situation is permanent. My relationship with my own father has changed a number of times over the years, which may indicate I am more flexible than my children (my impression), that they are emotionally damaged (a strong possibility), or maybe I am not a good father (always worth considering). The most definite pieces of information are they do not know me, and have made no attempt to know me, yet they harbor strong feelings about who I am (provided by their mother).

So earlier this week, when a dear friend made a statement about God, portraying it in a “paternal” image, in conjunction with the approaching holiday, my thoughts drifted to children and their illusions about fathers. The statement had been in the context of gun control, and he had said “every time it works, God smiles.” My God supports free will rather than denying it, so I don’t see God smiling in such an instance, and I started to wonder what made our perceptions about God so different.

The first thought was that the all powerful creator of the universe really doesn’t give a damn if you buy a gun or go bowling. Then I realized I was thinking of my God. I realized we all have different Gods, everyone sitting in the pew at church believes in a different God, because despite the holy texts, we each have to read and understand what we have read. We carry a banner (“Christian” in my case) but we have different beliefs, in some cases radically different. From what I’ve read, God wants us to live our lives according to his directions, and when we die we get to find out if we correctly interpreted the directions and how to follow them. Not before.

Some religions clearly don’t hold this view. Some people misunderstand their religion, and believe they are supposed to enforce God’s directions on Earth, even when the texts clearly state otherwise. Some people are just doing whatever they want, and waving a banner because it gives them a sense of authority. Problems arise from confusing terms, which inhibit communication. “God” is a concept, so when I say “God” it means the being that I imagine God to be, when Benjamin Netanyahu says “God” it means the being he imagines God to be, and when the leader of Daesh says “God” it means the being he imagines God to be. My theological mind argues we are all speaking of the same God, my psychological mind knows we are speaking about three different Gods, because we believe they are different, having in our minds created God and the differences between the Gods. We all believe God is greatest, if we speak Arabic we say Allahu Akbar.

I can be fairly annoying in arguments, because I tend to coach my opponents to make better arguments, I see all the sides.

I believe a part of my vision of God is based on my view of what a father should be, and my impression of myself as a father makes me believe I am doing it right. My children are each successful in their chosen fields. They are strong willed and independent. They don’t always do the things I would want them to do, but guess what? I didn’t do everything they wanted me to do. That doesn’t make them “bad children” any more than it makes me a “bad father,”  but they have placed themselves in judgement of my activities (which had nothing to do with them, particularly the ones that took place before they were born), so you might see how I can compare the relationship to that of God and Humans. They don’t know who I am now, how could they know anything about who I was then?

I consider the Christian Bible to be God’s word. I am fully aware the words themselves were written by human beings, and translated several times to accommodate various languages and ages. The Aramaic of 30 B.C. is unrecognizable to Arabs today, the English of 1611 would be unintelligible to an English subject today, Modern English is largely unintelligible to Americans. Many thoughts are ascribed to God in the Bible, they represent the message of the moment, not different Gods. The messages of the Old Testament are different from the messages of the New Testament. I suspect the punishment for arguing the order in which to prioritize its words would be similar to the punishment I meted out to my children when they brought up things I had said prior to their existence, it has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

My beliefs have led me to understand God placed us on Earth to learn. Learning means making mistakes, and learning from them. There are sects which believe intent is an equal failure,  it may be, but I believe overcoming desire is the extenuating circumstance God will consider when it makes judgement. Jimmy Carter thought it was a sin to lust in your heart, but I believe acting on that lust is the sin God prohibited. Denying the opportunity prevents the sinner from making the decision to act. Allowing the opportunity gives the sinner the ability to redeem their heart. The same holds true in the gun analogy, Omar Mateen may have hated gay people, or just Americans, but had we prevented him from purchasing the guns, would it have pleased God? Would it not want Omar to have the opportunity to decide not to pull the trigger? Is it sad because you responded to Omar’s decision by arguing over his motives and methods rather than reaching out to his victims?

So on Father’s Day, which in America is celebrated on Sunday, considered to be “The Lord’s Day” by most Christians, get to know your father. Your father on Earth, and your father in Heaven. They both spent a good deal of effort on telling you who they are, but have no control over how you interpreted what they told you.

Get it right this time. It really is for your own good.

Advertisements

14 comments on “God the Father

  1. Mike R. says:

    Touchy subject for me. Maybe not as much as it once was, but just when I think I have dealt with it, it often rears it’s ugly head. I struggled with a distant and troubled father, only to find out that I was a very distant and troubled son. I have come to see my own failure to be become and be the father that I thought my own father should be.

    I have sometimes thought, “If only I could go back and do things differently.” With some sadness and with considerable relief, I have come to see that unless I was cured of my sinful nature, I would likely repeat the same mistakes. And so it is with my own father, and my son. And that will not happen in this life.

    I have been and am an imperfect husband with an imperfect wife. I have been an imperfect employee with imperfect employees. And I am likewise imperfect in my many other relationships with imperfect people. It would not be wrong to substitute the word “sinful” for the word “imperfect”.

    Truly the only hope is in the only perfect Father and the only perfect Son. In Him there is forgiveness and in Him there is hope.

    Thanks for poking some old wounds that I often pretend I have dealt with fully, only to find out that I remain imperfect. It is a helpful pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      It was realizing the ways in which I was less than perfect for my father which made me realize the ways in which he was less than perfect were understandable, and forgivable. I even came to praise his effort, when my mother explained to me he had done the best job he knew how to do (I was in my 30s). Accepting him as human made me accept myself as human, a lesson he probably never intended.

      Like

      • Mike R. says:

        Your thoughts remind me of Joseph’s comment to his brothers in Genesis: “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” And of Romans 8:28, i.e, that all things work together for the good of those whom are called according to his purpose. While it does not expunge all the pain, it makes sense of it. Perhaps your father never intended the lesson, but the sovereign God in all his wisdom, knows what we are in need of. While God is not the author if our sins, he certainly directs them to his purposes. A mysterious process, indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mari Collier says:

    I was too busy yesterday to read anyone’s blogs. Loved this one, but, of course, I disagree about one thing. We are not judged on our deeds, we are judged on whether we believe in Christ as our Savior. That one can upset a lot of people. Sorry if it messes up your blog. Mankind keeps trying to direct the events of the world. They forget that the world is God’s province. I pray your children will someday know you. Your writing again is awesome. You are healing.

    Like

    • Mike R. says:

      And what a relief that is, Mari. I’d be in big trouble if I had to appear with my own righteousness. If Paul’s was rags, mine is something worse. What love that God would exchange his own righteousness for our sins.

      I agree with you. Blake’s writing is awesome. He has the ability to put so much into one piece. Not only by making the article address the occasion, but also weave in some deep thoughts and personal experiences. And then bring it to some great conclusions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. kblakecash says:

    You two make me blush. I am questioning my own cognitive abilities.

    My thoughts on deeds vs hearts are that had Omar would not have completed the deed had his heart softened. The process of killing might have brought awareness.

    Like

    • Mari Collier says:

      Go ahead and blush, but, but please, continue writing. I really doubt that his heart would have softened. I do not know that for certain, but I doubt it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mike R. says:

      Blushing is good for the circulation.

      One can only hope for the change in people’s hearts. His sin would not have unforgivable, as hideous as it was. I’ve come to believe that the only way my heart can change is if God melts it and, once in a while, breaks it. I don’t like that particular medicinal approach, but I know that he allows it for my good. And my pride, too, another problem area. I’ve heard that pride is such a stubborn trait in human hearts that it must be burned and poisoned just to keep in in remission, and the best thing for that is the process of humbling. Hate it, but I need it.

      Reminds me of a wonderful book that probably is no longer in publication, entitled, “Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants”, by Paul Brand. I am also reminded of Saint Paul, who had a “thorn in the flesh.” Many have speculated about what for too problem the thorn in the flesh was. I’ve come to the conclusion that it was his many terrible trials and persecutions, given to him, as he indicates, to keep him from becoming proud due to his many spiritual revelations given by God. And somehow he came to rejoice in them. I’m a long way from that, yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mari Collier says:

        We cannot judge who is forgiven and/or condemned. That is God’s province. I serious doubt that that shooter turned to the Lord Jesus though.

        Many people have a thorn in their flesh or an ache in their heart. They simply shoulder on and wonder why anyone would read about those problems when the ones you are facing are so much greater. St. Paul did not “whine” about his. He simply stated that it was there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mike R. says:

          I have not gotten to the point that I rejoice in my own thorns, although there are times that I can agree with the Psalmist when he wrote, “It is good that I was afflicted.” I can see where God has used brokenness and pain to turn me to Him. And I can see that his discipline is never punitive towards the believer, but from the hand of a loving father. I wish I could say that I was free of whining!

          I’ve been reading a little book on suffering written by the Puritan writer Thomas Brooks, “The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod.” Not a very enticing title. And, like all books written in older English, a bit hard to read. I think a more modern title would be “How to Endure Discipline Quietly and Patiently.” It is both convicting and comforting. Oh, that I would more quickly learn how not to whine! Where would we be without the perfect righteousness of Christ?

          God works in mysterious ways, even using our suffering to prepare us to be vessels of grace towards others in pain. I’ve drawn encouragement from what you have shared of your own trials and your continuing love of God. And I’ve drawn encouragement from walking alongside Blake through so many years of his own trials, although I regret it has only been via the Internet. Seeing people continue to trust in God despite their pain is a powerful balm.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mari Collier says:

            It seems the Good Lord gave me a disposition that means I may gripe a bit, set my teeth and get to work. Oh, yes, I also laugh along the way. Sometimes it becomes difficult when your beloved and then your son dies, but I know where there are, I am just here without them. That means I can either enjoy the life on Earth I have been granted or become a recluse. I prefer the former.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Mike R. says:

              What a godly response to affliction. You’ve rested on the God of the living. Of course, you’ve had to go through some pretty difficult trials. It’s such an encouragement to me when I meet people like you–pressing on because you have hope in God. What a strength it is to know that we serve the God who can raise bodies from the grave. It’s slowly sinking into my thick heart and mind that I will not die but will, in a twinkling of an eye, be present with the Lord. And one day he will raise my body, as well. I pray that, should I experience the trials that you have, I will respond in the same way. May God bless you, Mari.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Mari Collier says:

                Thank you, Mike. I have been blessed in so many ways. I have good health (considering), and I have a place for my family until they can get back on their feet again. I give thanks every day.

                Like

  4. walterth3rd says:

    well written, my friend, on all counts. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s