Finding my Father
The spirit of sonship.
When I was a young boy, I always had a deep longing in my heart to get alone with my Dad so that somehow we could become best friends. The man next door had three sons, and he used to take weekends off with them to go hunting and fishing. I would listen to all their “dad” stories on the way to school on Monday mornings wishing desperately that I had a dad like theirs. Once I even asked one of the sons if he could ask his dad to adopt me. My own father always seemed too busy or not interested!
After I became a Christian, the Lord gently confronted me with the need to see God as my loving heavenly Father. Little did I know what the Father had in store once this revelation was applied to my life. I didn’t know then that it would eventually become my life’s message.
MY VISION OF THE FATHER
The revelation of God as my heavenly Father began to unfold in my life through a vision I received early one morning. In the vision I woke up in a log cabin to the aroma of bacon sizzling on the stove and the sound of someone flipping fried eggs high in the air and catching them in the frying pan. I turned over in the bed to see who was going to all this trouble for me. Just then the man, whom I thought was my dad, stopped what he was doing, turned around and looked straight into my eyes with a look I will never forget. I found myself gazing into the eyes of God, my Heavenly Father. He didn’t speak a word. He didn’t need to. I could feel his deep love for me. There was no condemnation in it. I kept thinking, this is my Dad. I found my Best Friend! I am the “apple of His eye". He loves me with his whole heart and isn’t holding anything back. I’m so very important to him.
"The revelation of Sonship broke over my soul like a new shoot from an old tree pushing its way through the asphalt of my childhood disillusionment and into the light of God’s love."
That day something that was dead inside me came alive. The revelation of Sonship broke over my soul like a new shoot from an old tree pushing its way through the asphalt of my childhood disillusionment and into the light of God’s love.
Until this vision, I did not realize how I had projected the image of my earthly father on my heavenly Father. Unbelief about the Father’s heart toward me had caused me to believe that on this side of heaven, I could only have Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I thought, when I get to heaven I will meet God, my Heavenly Father; and to be quite honest, I was not looking forward to that event.
During the six months prior to this revelation, the Holy Spirit had been bringing to mind memories of my childhood. My father was an alcoholic and living with his addiction had taken its toll on our family relationships. God was convicting me of bitterness and dishonour towards both of my parents and bringing up emotional wounds that needed to be healed. The biggest wound I had received came from not being honored. I had been ignored. The feeling of not being valued had left a vacuum in my life.
"Because I felt insignificant, I was unable to pass the blessing of honor on to my children."
John Trent, in his book, THE GIFT OF HONOR, describes “honor” as a decision we make to place high value, worth and importance on another person by viewing him or her as a priceless gift. Honoring someone means granting him or her a position in our lives worthy of great respect and then putting that decision into action.
Because I felt insignificant, I was unable to pass the blessing of honor on to my children. Webster’s Dictionary defines “Father” as the one who gives significance to his children. This significance is the result of giving value to the child for who they are, not just for what they do. Without wanting to, I was following the same pattern as my earthly father, not being able to share my heart with my kids or tell them how much I loved them. Instead I would try to shame them into obeying me.
THE ORPHAN SPIRIT
I’m not the only one in the body of Christ who has had difficulty parenting because of previous wounds. The “orphan spirit” hasunfortunately deprived millions of believers from fully enjoying a relationship with God.
I remember being in Guatemala in 1984 on a short -term mission outreach. I was standing in the pouring rain beside the grave of a 2- year- old child as they were lowering his tiny coffin into the ground. The Father spoke to me and said you are crying tears of grief for this orphan, but this downpour represents my tears for the orphans in my church. I began to see that many in the church still live as orphans even though they have the status of sons and daughters. Here are comments written by some “orphans” in the church describing their fathers.
“My earthly father is a hard worker and someone without many hobbies, other than types of work. I can only relate to him in work situations. Perhaps this has influenced me in feeling like I need to be productive and always working for my Heavenly Father to get his affirmation. I guess all my life I have seen God the Father as distant, uninvolved and emotionless. I have often felt that when I pray I am bothering God, and keeping him from more important things.”
“The father I had was no father at all. I am still afraid of God as my father, that he will get mad at me, punish me, or ignore me when I am not sure what he is asking from me, and I do not know what to do to please him.”
“I know God is a God of love and he wants to have an intimate relationship with me but I am not confident or secure in His love. I guess I feel like I have to earn it somehow and work at it on my own. I find it hard just to rest in his love. I conceive God to be someone who really cares about me, but stays fairly distant, supportive but does not identify with me as a person, loving but not emotional or expressive.”
All of these people once had a very distorted view of God, the Father, based on negative qualities of their earthly fathers. The good news is that all of those who wrote the statements above have been healed and are now able to love their dads and find a loving relationship with God, the Father. As God healed them, they were able to see that their father was just acting out the relationship that was modelled to them by their own fathers. As each one unlocked the secret rooms of their hearts, the Holy Spirit brought forgiveness and healing.
HEALING FATHER-INFLICTED WOUNDS
The only way we can get free from the emotional wounds that result from being devalued by dishonouring parents is to forgive and honor them. It may seem difficult at first, but we must begin to separate their behavior from their value as a person who is created in the image of God and deeply loved by Him. Giving grace to them means giving them a gift of acceptance we may feel they do not deserve, just as God has honored us by giving us the gift of His Son.
"I watched as wounds caused by fear, unbelief, rejection and anger were all healed when I humbled myself at the cross and admitted I needed my heavenly Father’s ability to forgive."
Forgiving does not mean that you are ignoring your father’s wrongdoing, but choosing rather to accept the fact that you have been wounded by his failures. Choosing to forgive sets both you and your dad free and pulls out the roots of bitterness that may be defiling your spiritual life. As I let go of judgements I had made about my dad, I destroyed the frame I had placed around his life, a frame from which he could not escape. Radical changes began to take place in my own family relationships as a result. I watched as wounds caused by fear, unbelief, rejection and anger were all healed when I humbled myself at the cross and admitted I needed my heavenly Father’s ability to forgive.
Then I could see what was right in my parents’ lives instead of just concentrating on what was wrong. I was able to affirm them for who they are and tell them that regardless of their mistakes, I will never stop loving them. Today, by God’s grace, I have a collection of love letters from my children written over the last 17 years since receiving this wonderful breakthrough with my heavenly Father. I’ve learned to receive God’s love and bestow the honor that I longed to give.
If I can receive healing, so can you. The Father wants you to know that when you received Jesus, you were baptized into the same relationship that Jesus has with the Father. Calling God your “Daddy” is now your birthright.