Preparing the Heart
I’ll admit it, I’m a grown woman who still calls her father Daddy because that’s who is to me. Growing up, Daddy was the spiritual leader of our home, but it didn’t start out that way. When he picked Momma up for their date nights, at every stoplight the beer bottles left bruises on her ankles. One night, she forbade him to take her out with beer on his breath or bottles in his pick- up- truck.
Sober, he still dated her.
Three kids later, Momma lined her brood by the door to head out for a church revival. Weary of being the lone wife in the pews, she begged Daddy to go.
He brushed her off. “You go on now, I’m tired.”
When we saw sadness flash in Momma’s dark eyes, we begged him ourselves. He couldn’t say “no” to his wee ones. “Alright, I’ll go this one night, but don’t go asking me again.”
The next night, without a word Daddy followed us out the door and the next. He went for the whole revival and began attending church. One evening, while alone God tugged at his spirit. He fell on his knees by the sofa where he confessed his sins, proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ, and surrendered his life to the Father.
I don’t remember my cigarette smoking, beer drinking Daddy. I only remember the one who read us the Bible and lined us up by the sofa every evening, so we could learn how to talk to our Heavenly Father. I remember the Daddy who led me to the Lord in a darkened church one Sunday afternoon before locking up. I remember the Daddy who sent me to my room to re-write a poem fifty times before proclaiming “Tammy, God made you a writer!”
I tell you all this because our earthly fathers can be the filter in which we view our Heavenly Father. If this filter is cracked or smeared our picture of God could be distorted. A. W. Tozer stated, “What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
The following are some ways in which we could perceive God that will throw us out of relational alignment:
- A Greek god:
If we see the Father as a Greek god of mythology, our relationship with him becomes impersonal. We will slide under the radar because if we screw up he may point his trident in our direction and strike us with lightening. Many times, being raised in a legalistic church or allowing legalism to trickle into our relationship can produce this view of God. God’s love is contingent upon our obedience. If we do anything bad—watch out for His wrath. We may have had a father who was harsh in administering punishment, offered performance-based affection, or pushed us into a rigid view of religion instead of relationship.
If God is Alexa to us—ask and you shall receive—fulfilling our needs is His ultimate purpose. When we aren’t happy, God’s not doing His job. He’s not listening to us. If this is our perception a litmus test would be in our prayers. If our prayers consist of a long list of wants then it’s possible God is not in His proper place in our lives. The Prosperity Doctrine teaches God’s job in our relationship is to prosper us, whereas the truth is our job is to prosper His kingdom. It is not to say God needs us, because He’s God He doesn’t need anything, but we are here for God not the other way around. Although, God is clear He does desire us to turn to Him with our needs, but our wants should not take up the dominant part of our prayer life. Furthermore, if we are abiding in the Father, our wants will be aligned with His for our lives.
If Alexa is our perception of God, our Daddy’s may have been a big gift givers, but rarely showed his love in other ways such as affection, being present, or affirmation in our lives.
- The Big Guy Upstairs:
If this is our view of God we may acknowledge He exists and give Him a nod or a word on occasion, but never invite Him to take over in our lives. It’s as if we view Him as an elderly albeit wise relative, whom you don’t want to bother with your petty petitions. You may have grown up in church as a holiday attender. Religious practices are tradition. In this case, our daddy’s could have been workaholics. We respect them for financially providing for us, but he tended to be vacant in other aspects of our lives.
God reveals in His word how He wants us to view Him. According to www.christianbiblereference.com, God is referred to as Father (Abba) in the New American Standard 1,131 times. If our view of God is Father it puts us in a perfect relational alignment. We will be in submission to His authority in our lives, we will want a loving two-sided relationship with Him, we will desire to be in open communication, we will feel loved and wanted by Him, and we will want Him to be pleased with us.
I had a friend named Vanessa who didn’t have a loving Father growing up. He was an abusive alcoholic, so much so, she landed in the foster care system. On her death bed she told me she’d bought a Father’s Day card every year for the Father she wished she’d had. After she received Christ, she realized she’d had Him all along.
“I always felt someone loving me from afar, that someone was watching over me, I just didn’t know who He was, until one day, while driving to the grocery store I saw cars pulling into a church parking lot. It was as if my steering wheel turned on its own. I followed the crowd into the building. Inside, I heard the message of my Heavenly Father and soon I understood it was Him all along.”
Our Father wants to know us. He is pursuing us and wants us to know Him in a deeply personal way. So much so, He may steer you right into Him. Have you had someone in your life share Jesus with you? That was the Father seeking you!
I hope as we prepare our hearts for Christmas that we take the time to unscrew our filters and inspect them. There is hope in overcoming our childhood religions and relationships—for they all fall short when stacked next to our Heavenly Father, but He’s the one that can fix that. He’s the only one that can help us see the clear picture of who He is. We just have to ask.
Jay’s the Daddy who can always make us laugh! Make sure to hug the Daddy’s in your life. Till next time…