Every once in a while I catch a case of wanderlust and sneak onto a travel site. I check out different locations and see how many mortgage payments it would cost to go to my dream location. I wonder what it would be like to slip on some giant sunnies, board a plane, and step off of it in a Mediterranean paradise. Or what it would be like to take an Instagram-worthy photo of the best foreign food- assuming my camera was faster than my fork.
(Photo credit: Shifaaz shamoon)
While I’ve never been overseas, there are countless pictures, personal accounts, and even movies to tell me what it must be like. It seems so different from what I know, but it becomes easy to imagine and wish for. Even with all the information I can find online, having never experienced it, I don’t really know what it’s like in those distant countries I admire.
(Photo credit: Zach Ward)
Sometimes there are aspects of our relationship with God that can be difficult to experience or understand because of lacking elements in our earthly relationships.
One aspect of our connection to God that I’ve always loved and held dear is our relationship with Him as a father. Understanding who God is as a father is a crucial part of understanding His importance in our lives. But how can you do that if you’ve never had a right relationship with your own earthly father?Understandably, it’s difficult.
How can I know what a fresh cannoli tastes like in a mom and pop Italian bakery if I’ve never been to Italy? How can I know what it smells like when it rains on the streets of Paris if I’ve never walked them? And how can I experience God’s fatherly love and the consistency of His presence in my life if I’ve not had that from my human father?
(Photo credit: Derek Thomson)
For starters, know that this is a place for your faith to grow.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”
James 1:2-3 NLT
It’s said that there are things concerning how God works that we’re not meant to know or understand in this life, and this may be one of them for some of us.
But if you peek into the lives of others, you’ll see that you are not singled out- that there are opportunities for faith to grow in them, too. For those who struggle with addiction, their opportunity may be in the long recovery process. For those who are limited due to illness or inability, their opportunity may be in their limits. And for some of us, our opportunity for faith to be grown may be in a hurt or missing parental relationship.
If we lack these things- sobriety, physical ability, emotional stability, etc.- how do we fill the space they should inhabit? What a beautiful empty room those things create to be filled with God’s presence, beauty, and great ability to provide.
(Photo credit: Philipp Berndt)
If you don’t know what to expect from God as your father or how to identify Him in that way because of a lacking relationship, Psalm 145 gives great representation of our Heavenly Father:
Fatherly Characteristics of God (According to Psalm 145)
- Merciful (v. 8)
- Compassionate (v. 8, 9)
- Slow to anger (v. 8)
- Filled with unfailing love (v. 8)
- Good to everyone (v. 9)
- Promise keeper (v. 13, also Psalm 146:6)
- Gracious (v. 13)
- Righteous (v. 17)
- Filled with kindness (v. 17)
- Protector (v. 20, also Psalm 144:2)
In His grace, God has planted in His Word all the information we need to have a clear picture of who He is as our father. Though we may not have the chance to experience these qualities in our human relationships, God is faithful and fulfills them all- not just some! In the emptiness a broken relationship can leave behind, God fills the space and overflows from it with his abundance of loving qualities. We can relate to Him because we learn through His Word who He is, and we build trust by relying on Him consistently.
Some of us may never get the social media-worthy photo of extravagant travels or Norman Rockwell family moments. (Even if we did, surely we’re wise enough by now to know that there is always production magic going on behind the scenes to make those things appear better than they really are.) But there are no special effects in the image scripture gives us of God the Father. It’s cut and dry- a candid depiction of the constant qualities of the only unfailing parent we will ever know.
And what’s more, God is eternal and omnipresent. That’s forever. That’s everywhere. That’s never waiting on the front porch in disappointment realizing He isn’t going to show, or living life after He’s gone. He is always with us, completely constant in all of His perfect qualities.
If you’re left wanting from your earthly parental relationships, take heart in this scripture from Psalms 27:
“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”
Psalms 27:10 NLT
What great encouragement it is to know that we are never alone, even if our most foundational relationships in this life fail! God is always close to us, and always able to supply His perfect peace if we are faithful to ask for it.
What quality of God as a father are you most thankful for?