What you need to know about your Father

May 24, 2019

Have you considered how your view of your earthly father has affected how you relate to your heavenly Father?

Fifteen months before the birth of Jesus, God sent the angel Gabriel to Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist. John’s ministry was to prepare the hearts of Israel for the coming Messiah. One line in his mission intrigued me. “And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children…to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:17, ESV)

I wondered how turning the hearts of the fathers to the children prepared the way for Jesus. A counseling class taught by Jim Craddock, a pioneer in connecting the relationship we have with our fathers to the relationship we feel with the heavenly Father, showed the staggering impact a father plays in a child’s concept of God.

During the course, each of us took an inventory of how we perceived our heavenly Father in regard to a variety of issues. I zipped through the simple list checking the appropriate columns.

Later, we filled out the same inventory with respect to our earthly fathers. I whizzed down the columns until my pattern stopped me. I flipped back in my workbook to the first inventory. I was stunned. The pattern of my answers was identical. I’d projected the image of my earthly dad onto my heavenly Father.

Where Daddy had a sense of humor, God chuckled too. Where Daddy was strict, I saw my heavenly Father frown. The lesson startled and warned me. My relationship with my earthly father directly impacts the way I experience my heavenly Father.

My relationship with my earthly father directly impacts the way I experience my heavenly Father.

A friend took a seminary class that echoed this finding. A survey found that every self-proclaimed atheist shared this common trait — a damaged relationship with his or her father. Their fathers had been absent, distant or abusive.

John the Baptist’s mission now made sense to me. Turning the hearts of the fathers to their children opened Israel’s arms to welcome God’s Son. Loving, engaged fathers tenderize their children’s hearts towards the Father. On the other hand, self-absorbed and emotionally disengaged fathers hinder their children from experiencing the unconditional love of our heavenly Father.

Two modern examples
Josh McDowell, Christian author and speaker, is a modern-day example of this. Josh grew up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father. He entered college a hardened agnostic. But in his attempt to disprove the resurrection, he discovered Christ and a heavenly Father. His heavenly Father healed his past wounds and transformed his life (read his bio here). Today, Josh McDowell has impacted millions of lives for Christ through his speaking and writing.

C. S. Lewis’s mother died when he was ten. Lewis was shipped off to school. The physically and emotionally distant relationship he had with his father no doubt played a role in his becoming an atheist. But the story doesn’t end there. Christ pursued Lewis. Experiencing the love of his heavenly Father transformed Lewis into the great Christian author and influencer we so deeply love.

If you struggle with trusting God, feeling close to Him, or believing He loves you, look at the relationship you had with your father. Perhaps there is a good reason for your feelings. But those feelings don’t reflect the truth about God or who you are to Him.

Jesus came to show us the Father. When we grow close to our Father by getting to know Jesus, His love transforms us just as it did Josh McDowell and C. S. Lewis. “Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’” (John 14:9, NIV)


Debbie Wilson
/  Author, Speaker, Writing Coach  /  Lighthouse Ministries

Think like a missionary

How can I think like a missionary?Missionaries live with a deep love and compassion for those who are far from God. They are burdened for those who are lost — those who are like sheep without a shepherd. They live by the words of Jesus when He said, “I have other sheep that are...

Why crisis & unrest should point us to prayerful hope in Christ

If ever there was a time when believers and churches needed to focus on God’s great hope in Jesus, it is now. The COVID-19 pandemic — along with all the racial, social, political, economic and spiritual unrest that has gripped our nation — has, in many ways, cast a cloud of...

Saved from war, man from Congo planting church in Raleigh

Rufus Muhirwe is tall, thin and soft-spoken. Look at this gentle man and you would never guess the years-long nightmare he endured before coming to Raleigh, N.C. He found that God was with him through those years. And the fact that Muhirwe is planting a new church is a testimony...

How families can mentor families to make disciples at home

There is an old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” What if we took this same approach in discipling our families. No doubt, you have families in your church who are doing a phenomenal job discipling their...

Don’t miss the blessing of leading your child to Christ

Most churches stress the importance of passing the gospel on to future generations. We often refer to the family as a primary mission field. To emphasize this reality, we point to passages such as Deuteronomy 6:6-7a, which says, “These words that I am giving you today are to be in...

4 women’s ministry events for you and your church

“Pivot” is a new buzzword brought about by COVID-19, and it’s something every organization and ministry has had to do amid the global pandemic. The coronavirus has forced the cancellation, postponement, rescheduling or shifting of numerous events and conferences, and the impact...

NCMO helps demonstrate Christ’s love in word, deed

The year 2020 has been a year like no other in our lifetime. Events of this year have left many people hurting in numerous ways. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be compelled by the love He demonstrated for us through His death on the cross to love others, serve...

Baptists on Mission dedicates Charity Rebuild Center

Two years ago Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina with devastating force. Today Baptists on Mission (NCBM) dedicated its Charity Rebuild Center, a disaster relief ministry hub near Rose Hill, N.C. Since its founding in 2019, the site has been home base for volunteer teams as...

2 Comments

  1. J.D. Wininger

    It took me over twenty years to break that same pattern of thought. Even though I was adopted into a loving, Christian family at fourteen; the memories of my biological father stuck with me for many years. My secular mind imprinted his character onto God. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I came to understand this simple logic. I imprinted my biological dad onto my Heavenly Father, because he failed to allow the Heavenly Father to be imprinted onto him. Great article. I pray this reaches many who have yet to learn this important lesson.

    Reply
    • Debbie Wilson

      J.D., Thank you for sharing your powerful story of this principle and of God’s healing. How wonderful that He can make us new and give us new understanding.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!