I grew up hearing the phrase “God the Father”, but my understanding of the concept brought fear instead of the comfort it was “supposed” to bring. One of my biggest struggles still today is slipping into a perspective that God is a distant power figure who watches my every move with retaliation punishment in hand.
If I am really honest with myself, this perspective stems largely from a lack of trust. I often have a very hard time trusting God’s character and His plans for me. Time and time again I have proven to myself (and everyone around me) that my plans for my life are not…well, let’s just say apt to end in anything short of disaster.
The truth is that God is not a haughty authority figure far out of our reach. He is a loving Father. Unfortunately, society and even some churches and Christians paint a picture of a hardened King where the image of grace belongs.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11
If we have ever had someone genuinely love us, or if we have genuinely loved someone, we have at least a fraction of an understanding of the concept of sacrifice and the feeling of wanting what is best for someone else. God has already proven that He wants what is best for us by giving the ultimate sacrifice, why would He hold anything back now?
We are His children. We are precious to Him and He wants nothing more than to hold our hand(s) and guide us through this crazy journey called life. It doesn’t matter how old we are, how entitled or successful we are by this world’s standards, we are His kids.
How do we go about stepping into a comfort zone instead of a strict zone? It’s a perspective change. If you are anything like me, fight or flight mode kicked in at the sight of those words, but bear with me. Personally, there are three things that have helped me.
- Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.
As simple as this may seem, I forget more than I care to admit that asking God for something is an option. In this case, asking Him for a heart change that enables me to see Him for who He is has proved very powerful.
- Force myself to be completely real with Him
The more honest I am with Him (and by honest I mean absolutely no filter) the more comfortable I feel around Him. Don’t worry, if He can handle my brutal honesty, He can handle yours. It may not sound pretty, or even decently humane, but it’s real.
- Call Him “Dad” when I talk to Him.
This felt a little odd at first (OK maybe more than a little, I felt like a total weirdo) but it has helped shift my perspective of Him. When I frame Him as a Father figure with my words, feelings and understanding can follow.
This combination may not be the solution for you, but I am confident that whichever route you take, He is waiting to reveal His tender love and mercy and replace any twisted viewpoint that may be camping out in your mind.
“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 2:28