“When our Father seems distant…”

I realize that we live in a broken, sinful, world and many relationships are broken. Unfortunately, our ‘broken’ human relationships can colour the way we think about our spiritual relationships, especially with our heavenly Father. Some have even said that they have difficulty calling God their Father because the relationship with their human father has been such a disaster. As a result, they sadly tend to keep God at a distance.    

Interestingly, some Christians and even preachers on occasions seem to speak about our loving, Father God in terms that makes Him seem very distant. For example, some will say, “You need to believe in God” or “God will hear your prayers” or “God loves you” or “I thank God for you.”  Now let me say that I am sure many of these people mean much more when they refer to God in such a manner, but it can sometimes come across as though our God who means everything to us is some non-personal entity. 

In our reading of the Psalms over recent weeks, the emphasis is often reflecting a very personal relationship.  For instance, “The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psa 23) or “God is my refuge and strength” (Psa 46) or “God is my rock” (Psa 62).  In reflecting that personal relationship, the psalmist often uses the covenant name “Lord” (small capitals in most English versions) for God, indicating a personal relationship with God.  Throughout the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, the historical books, the major and minor prophets, “The Lord my God” is found, again reflecting a personal relationship (Num 22:18; Jos 14:8; 1 Kgs 5:4; 1 Chr 22:7; Jer 31:18; Dan 9:4). 

It seems that if the Psalmist and other writers of the Old Testament Scriptures could have such a personal relationship with God to call Him Lord, how much more so for us today, this side of the cross.  Jesus instructed his disciples to pray, beginning with the words, “Our Father, who is in heaven…” (Mat 6:9).   The Apostle Paul mentions in Romans 8, that because of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross and beyond, we are God’s adopted children, and we can call out to him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). 

The fact that we can call the Creator God our Father in Christ is of great comfort. Just as little children will run to their earthly fathers (assuming all things are good) for love, care and protection, so we can run to our heavenly Father.  Our heavenly Father knows we need clothes, food, shelter and many more things besides, and He provides them with all in perfect measure (Mat 6:25-34).   Our heavenly Father knows our spiritual needs and has provided the perfect Saviour and together they have promised to hold us for eternity (Jn 10:28ff). 

So, two things. Fathers, being a dad is more than what it seems. Let us make sure that as we practice earthly fatherhood, it may reflect our loving heavenly Father in such a positive way, that our children especially, but also others will never have reason to keep their heavenly Father at a distance.  Second, let us use language that reflects a personal relationship with our loving, Father God, and that He is everything to us in Christ, now and forever.   JZ