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

Why you should open your home this holiday season

The end of the year is often marked by a seemingly endless barrage of family gatherings, cookie swaps, white elephant gift exchanges, office parties and more. The holidays cause some to stress out and wonder if they can fit everything in. Others experience profound sadness as they...

4 things to share with your children about Christmas

There are many wonderful insights to glean from the biblical accounts of Christ’s birth. Here are four truths for you and your family to ponder this Christmas season. Jesus is the reason for Christmas.Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, never overlooked the fact that Christ’s birth...

Top 5 resources for December 2019

Every month, we spotlight five helpful resources for you as you seek to walk closely with the Lord and make disciples. Many of these resources are created by the staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) to help meet the ministry needs of pastors and lay...

Thankful for NC Baptists’ generosity in missions giving

Many things come to mind when I think of North Carolina Baptists, but one word that rises to the top is generosity. North Carolina Baptists are generous people, and I don’t take for granted the prayers, the personal involvement through volunteer missions and the financial...

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering transforms lives

If you grew up in a Southern Baptist church, you probably associate the name Lottie Moon with the Christmas season. Lottie Moon — the namesake of Southern Baptists’ international missions offering — has become a legend. But in her time, Lottie was anything but an untouchable hero....

3 common objections to family discipleship

In Deuteronomy 6:7, Moses commands parents to “impress” God’s Word into the lives of their children. Then, he gives instructions on how to actually make that happen within the rhythms of each day. He says, “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,...

A Christmas resource with families in mind

Why did Jesus need to come to Earth? This is just one of the thought-provoking questions included in this brand new Advent family devotional surrounding the coming of Christ to the world. “Advent” means coming or arrival, and Family Advent Devotions, developed by the Faith at Home...

Better together: Missionaries and churches need each other

Recently, I spent a week in Europe with a missionary family from our church. For over 10 years, we have partnered with and supported this family as they labor in a very difficult mission field. While there, I attended a newly formed church that, by God’s grace, they had planted....

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!