A Father’s Image

I have frequently recommended that everyone should, to utilize an old phrase, put pen to paper or in today’s parlance, put fingers to keyboard and write their own biography. Whether or not a person ever intends to publish a work of that nature, it should be done. And, it should be done with the thought that it will actually be published; that the people who have been, or are presently a part of one’s life will be reading it and scrutinizing it for every detail that involves them. If you happened to write something that is less than the truth you will be held to account for the inaccuracy; possibly in a court of law.
What I found when I was writing “Dear Mom and Dad” was that by keeping that thought in mind as I wrote, and especially as I began the final editing stage, was that many of my memories had been extremely skewed. As the years had passed I had totally forgotten that many of the “facts” I remembered were fiction, created to protect and shield a fragile ego. The most important of those discoveries of distorted facts was the long term effects on behavior and thought. It brought about a dramatic change in the way I viewed many people as well as myself, but it also opened a whole new train of thought about the way I related to God.
In my next book, “An Uncommon Faith”, I’m dealing with the way that train of thought progressed but I want to share some of it here. Having been raised in a Christian home I’d been immersed in the Heavenly “Father” concept from my earliest Sunday school experiences. As I/we grew up, that way of thinking of God became completely ingrained. What also became a primary concern was pleasing and impressing my earthly father, “Dad.”
From the age of 20, the importance of impressing Dad with George’s accomplishments became a basis for every decision relating to money. In issues concerning relationships with people, thoughts of whether or not Dad would approve were always the basis for decision. Even when Dad eventually reached a point where he didn’t automatically, actually critique every action, worries of what he thought or would think if he knew, had a negative effect on George’s self-image. That image naturally extended to me.
When our Christian expression entered a rebirth with our return to church a year before Marilyn died, the image of God that has been affected by our relationship with Dad was still intact. The difference now was a determination to actually read the bible and understand it. Most of what I read supported my old impressions of man’s relationship to God, but those impressions began to change; sometimes dramatically and sometimes imperceptibly.
Then one morning, as I sat in church listening to the sermon, a revelation totally unrelated to the sermon flashed across my mind. I had been relating to God as if he was Dad. I’d been expecting God to approve, or disapprove of my actions and behavior the way I’d always expected Dad to approve or disapprove. What is written on my Sermon Notes page from that morning of March 1, 2009 is the following: “Imagine a truly perfect father – now you understand God’s character.” And below that: “What are the characteristics of a perfect father?”
What indeed are those characteristics? I’ve never met a “perfect” father. I’ve met some wonderful fathers, but I’ve never met a truly perfect father. After a great deal of thought on the subject I still didn’t know what those characteristics were. I thought about what I believed a perfect father would do to discipline a child caught in misbehavior. I thought about what the same perfect father would do for a child who’d done something worthy of acclaim. I thought about how a perfect father would guide his child in life’s decisions and pursuits. I eventually reached a point where I had to admit that I didn’t know the answers to those questions. Then I got this message: “Why don’t you ask Me?” It was of course a “Wow I could have had a V8 instead” moment. I did ask in prayer for God to help me understand how He wants me to relate to Him; what He wants to know and understand about Him. I still don’t know for certain what that complete answer is, but whatever that perfection entails, it’s rooted in a love that’s beyond my ability to comprehend and … I do have a much more complete image of Abba than I used to. It comes in bits and pieces like the impression that came to me last Sunday in the middle of our early service enthusiastic and joy filled musical praise. For the first time ever I sensed a truly happy Abba; an Abba who was thoroughly enjoying seeing his children engaged in enthusiastic praise of Him. That image brought immeasurable joy to this child. So … get busy on your own memoir and find in your history what I found in mine. Understanding, direction and most of all … Purpose!

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