I am a terrible father. It isn’t that I treat my five kids badly or that I am a dead-beat dad. In fact, if you asked most people they would say I am a pretty darn good father. But, I am not. I stink at fatherhood. This is because I am not God, who is the only one who truly fulfills what it means to be “father”.
When we think of the word father, we think most often of the men who raised us and gave us life. Some of these fathers are pretty good and some of them not-so-good. Regardless, our image of fathers is caught up with the man who gave us life and/or raised us. In many respects this is natural, for they truly are fathers in the biological and social senses. But, when we search a little more we discover that our human fathers really do not encompass the totality of fatherhood, because only in God is true fatherhood found.
We find the fatherhood of God in The Trinity, which is a family by nature. God The Father is the person who loves and who gives all that He is to the one who is loved by Him — The Son. The two of them together give themselves to one another and receive the other in love. This love is so powerful it explodes into the third person of the Holy Trinity — the Holy Spirit. Thus, we have the definition of family within the Trinity, and thus the very definition of Fatherhood in God the Father.
As humans we cannot naturally be called God’s children, for we do not share the same divine nature. But, through the grace of Jesus we are adopted into God’s family by baptism.
This Sacramental relationship of God and his adopted children is beyond our capability to fully grasp it, but we must try because everything depends on it.
Think of how little human fathers love their children in comparison to God’s love. This limitation in love that every human father has that leads most of us into a distorted image of God’s love. In other words we sometimes view God’s love as we do our earthly father’s love — limited, broken, and weak. We need to untwist the lies of how God loves us to be able to truly know the Father, pray to the Father, and live in relationship with the Father.
When my kids think back to how slow I am to forgive them, will they think that their heavenly Father will be slow to forgive as well?
When my kids think of the times I am grumpy, will they think God can be moody and unresponsive to their needs?
What about the times I sin against them? Will my children believe that God will fail to love and accept them also?
I pray this isn’t the case. Yet, the truth is God’s love is so much more than we realize.
Our Father loves us so much that He created the world for you and I.
If you take all of the rest of creation, ball it up, and place it right next to you, then you would be amazed at how The Father looks at the contrast between the Universe and His child. What He sees isn’t incomparable – you are the one He loves more than the rest of the world. In fact, God values each one of us more than all of the rest of His creation added up. Christ died on a cross and rose again so that we might have life eternal with Him. He didn’t die for the stars, the mountains, the animals, or the universe.
He died for you and me. That is what Fathers do. They love without fail.
This is why I am a terrible father and God is not. I know that many who read this reflection might think that I am a bit too hard on myself, but I don’t think so. I have a lot to work on and it doesn’t come from a false sense of pride. But, rather from the understanding that my children aren’t “my” children – they are God’s children first. I am merely their earthly father who has been given the great task of raising up His children.
What a humbling call. To think that the one who created us for Himself would entrust me with the crown jewel of the created order — one of His children. But, I must remember another fact. I am one of His children also!
God loves you and I as He loves His only begotten Son — with everything He is. It isn’t as if He holds back His love for us. He can’t. When the Father loves, He does so with an infinite and all-powerful love and one that is never-ending.
In fact, we can’t make God stop loving us. There is nothing bad enough that you or I could do to negate or stop His love.
What a Father we have. Our Father.
What are your thoughts? What else can we learn from “Father”?
Marcel LeJeune is an author, speaker and evangelist who is the Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M University. He shares more fascinating thoughts at his blog, Aggie Catholics, and I highly encourage you to get a copy of his excellent book, Set Free to Love: Lives Changed by the Theology of the Body.
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