Note – From David Taylor

 

God is not your father! There I said it. The most profound truth I ever learned and the biggest obstacle in my own walk with God.

 
What do I mean by saying “God is not your father”? Over 25 years of working with kids and even in my own life I’ve learned that our first view of God the Father is largely the image of our own earthly fathers. If your dad here on earth abandons you and doesn’t care for your needs, we tend to project that on God. God becomes someone we believe doesn’t care about us or may abandon us at any time. My own father was relationally distant, I don’t remember a single deep conversation in my entire life and he was around every day at home and he lived until I was 32 years old. Often my dad could be explosive in anger so I was always careful not to bother him or get too close to him though I longed to be close to my dad. On one occasion my dad hit me for something I said that he interpreted as being disrespectful. I didn’t say anything intentionally disrespectful and didn’t expect to get hit. My nose was broken so badly by the hit I needed surgery to fix it. I buried that memory for many years as too difficult to process. My own family did not know how I broke my nose. I made up a story of falling down. Over the years I told a few made up stories about my nose. I couldn’t face the truth. My father, a man respected and loved by so many, a devout man of faith, and a generous giver to many ministries and people, permanently rearranged my face in anger when I was 13.

 

I grew up in church and no matter how many Bible stories I knew and verses I memorized I viewed God through the lenses of my earthly dad. God the Father was distant to me. He didn’t speak to me, and I was honestly scared of Him. I thought anytime I had bad circumstances He was punishing me for something I failed to do to please Him. Accidents and tragedies were interpreted as God lashing out at my badness. I longed to know God as MY Father but I couldn’t love Him because I was too afraid around Him. Old Testament stories backed that up. Then came Jesus, and I viewed him as the Savior who took most of God’s anger for me so I didn’t have to go to hell, but he was probably disappointed in me too. I missed Jesus own words “He that has seen me has seen the Father” and “I and the Father are one”. What is God the Father like? That’s really jumbled in all I read in the Old Testament. I can however read Jesus whole life pretty simply. How did Jesus handle sinners? Adulterers? Tax-Collectors? Sick People? Then I reread the story of the Prodigal Son and realized the Father in the story is “Father God”. How does he treat the rebellious son? How does he treat the son who won’t celebrate his brother’s return? Such mercy, such approachability, such heart, such generosity! I missed it! I missed all of the obvious, because of the earthly experience of the word “father” in the life of my own dad.

On a retreat designed to help me heal as a man, the counselor who was speaking sent us off alone to write the letter that we always wished our dad would have written us. That was so hard for me to start, but I was determined to try. After an hour of fumbling to reach an honest place in my own heart here is what I wrote:

David,

I want you to know you are the apple of my eye. My pride; I am so proud of what you have become. My joy; I am happy – powerfully happy when I think of you. I want you to visit me often. Call me! I long for a word from you. I want to teach you how everything works and take away your anger and frustration. I know how lost you feel, I know your doubts and helpless feelings. That is not you! You are not lost, you lead the way. You are not faithless but you walk on water to me. You face giants! You win! You are so much stronger than you would dare to believe. I watch you with absolute delight. You are my boy – my favorite son. – Dad

It took me a long time to write the words that my heart wished my dad would’ve said to me. I went back to the next session with mixed feelings, knowing my dad was dead and I would never hear these words from him. The speaker then said to get out our letters and to read them again. This time he said, “I want you to know that this letter is actually God the Father’s letter to you. God has longed for you to know his heart for you, see it now and read His words. This is how he feels about you.” I was emotionally undone in that moment. A newer and deeper relationship with God as my Father began that day. Fear has slowly been replaced with trust. Silence has been replaced with learning conversation. Longing has been replaced with experiencing love.

To my fatherless brothers and sisters. God is not your father. God is so much better that that. Better than we could even dare to dream if we let our hearts ever dream again. God is the Father we’ve always wanted in the depths of our hearts even if we have tried to bury wanting a father. I can say with full assurance, that you are the son or daughter He has always wanted. If you could only try to believe. YOU are His favorite and you’ve been kept away too long.
 
David Taylor
Director of Ministries
The Door