If you’ve gone to church or read the Bible you’ve surely heard that God is your Father. You’re supposed to feel safe and secure knowing that. The thought of God as your Father is supposed to make you want to run into His arms with joy, knowing He will handle all of your problems.

But does it really make you feel that way?

Your mental picture of God probably looks very much like your earthly father. Sadly the idea of “father” is not a positive one for many, and that can create a major stumbling block to a relationship with God.

What was your relationship like with your father? What did you have to do to get his attention? What kind of attention did he give you? Were you afraid of him? Was he proud of you, or ashamed of you? Was he absent or distant? If he disciplined you, was it with violence or cruel criticism? How did you feel when you were around him?

Just reading those questions, can you see how your relationship with your earthly father – or lack thereof – has affected your relationship with God?

  • If your father was cruel and punitive, you probably see God as looking for any excuse to punish you.
  • If your father was absent, you probably see God as “out of sight, out of mind,” and having little or no impact on your life now, leaving you to fend for yourself.
  • If your father was weak and unsuccessful, you probably see God as unable to do much good when you really need Him now.
  • If your father was strong but uncaring, you probably see God as in charge of things in the universe, but not very involved in your life now.
  • If your father was overly permissive, you probably see God as ultimately willing to let you get away with just about anything.
  • If your father used and abused you in some way, you probably see God as using and abusing you in some way also – just on a bigger scale.
  • If your father was always available to you with love, guidance, and provision, you probably see God as always available to you in the same way.

You may intellectually know that God is not like your father in any negative way, but you probably feel toward Him like you did toward your father.

And God knows that!

If you had a wonderful father, be grateful. If you didn’t, let me encourage you to give God a chance. If need be, put the “father” image aside until you have an opportunity to really get to know God on His own terms. I know from experience that doing so can take some time: God is very patient! Then you can decide whether to let Him be your Father for yourself.

And if you are a father yourself, may God grant you the grace to be the kind of father to your children that will make it easy for them to develop their own relationship with their Heavenly Father.

Your turn: How has your picture of God been affected by your earthly father? Has God shown you that He is different than the father you knew here? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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