Sunday, November 21, 2010

God the 'Father'? Why Pick a Name With So Much Baggage?

It's weird to think of God as Father. Couldn't He have picked a better metaphor to describe himself? Granted, I was fortunate to have a great father. He took us to Braves games, provided for us on a military budget, and always showed interest in our sports endeavors.

But I know too many people who had bad fathers. Fathers that never cared for their kids. Fathers that never returned calls at Christmas. Fathers who chased younger women. Fathers who found their identity and worth in work, and choosing to neglect their family.

For too many, the title 'father' carries baggage. Bad memories. And hurt.

In the Old Testament, no one ever called God by the name of 'Father'. Ever.

God was called holy.
God was called a warrior.
God was called a rock.
God was called master.

But God was never called Father.

So when the disciples asked, "How should we pray?" you have to understand how unheard of it was for him to begin, "Our FATHER, who is in heaven..."

I'm sure the disciples thought, "Did he just say that?! Father?"

But Jesus invited us to do something intimate. Special. Inviting. Personal.

He called us to join the family of God. To call God, Father.

I began to better understand this when I read this powerful quote by George MacDonald,
"In my own childhood and boyhood my father was the refuge from all the ills of life, even sharp pain itself. Therefore I say to son or daughter who has no pleasure in the name Father, you must interpret the word by all that you have missed in life. All that human tenderness can give or desire in the nearness and readiness of love, all and infinitely more must be true of the perfect Father - of the maker of fatherhood."
This week I will become a father to my daughter, Reagan Arcadia. When she is born, I am told that my entire outlook on life will change. Which, I'm sure is true. But most importantly, my perspective on who my heavenly father is will change. How He cares. How He wants the best.

If you had a bad father, how do you feel about calling God your Father?