My children, all in their thirties at this writing, still call me “Dad.” I could be in a crowded place with throngs of people, but if I heard “Dad”, called out by a voice that came from my lineage, I would instantly respond and be delighted at the source. What about our heavenly dad? How does he feel when he hears his name spoken by a son or daughter? I generally call him “Abba” or “Father.” Whatever words you use, the key is, that He knows your voice and longs to respond. Consider these four “father” attributes.
Our heavenly dad is jealous for our hearts to be filled with his love.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
The “lust of the flesh” is an orientation towards self, a sufficiency independent of God. The “lust of the eyes” is to be captivated by what we see to the point of becoming addicted to materialism and greed. The “pride of life” is to bow before our reputation, to strive after some sort of status symbol, to boast about who we are. As limited, finite beings, we only have so much energy, focus, and desire to invest, hence the need to apportion an ample supply of our love and devotion unto connecting with the Father’s enduring love. As a sobering reminder, Adam and Eve enjoyed this perfect connection, and yet the serpent’s allurement drew their eyes and hearts away.
We are invited into God’s protective enclosure, which requires us to resist every path of compromise. “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.” (Song of Solomon 8:6) “Set Me as a signet (ring) upon your heart” is the literal translation. When I ponder the literal king’s seal on an ancient document, uniquely leaving the impression that conveyed the authenticity and authority of its’ owner, I am inspired to ask the Lord to make his ongoing imprint upon my heart and life.
Father and Son, are both engaged in this process, perfectly united in their zeal. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11) Jesus desires to root us in a oneness with he and Father, that we might abide in the kindred love which they enjoy.
Most Christians are more comfortable with Jesus, understandably so, as he took on our human form. He was, and still is, the face of the gospel message. But it’s vital for us to go deeper into the fatherhood of God, to a place where Jesus abides, gloriously united in his father’s love. “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23)
Our heavenly dad is the Father of spirits, our spiritual Father.
“Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” (Hebrews 12:9-10) Father desires that we share his holiness, to display a depth of character in our lives that will reflect his nature. Exactly how that happens is revealed in the next verse.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (12:11) As parenting goes, you will rarely find godly children who were not in some way consistently trained and mentored.
Our heavenly dad is the gardener of our lives.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit,while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2) The element of pruning has two aspects to it. One, is the removal of dead wood which can harbor disease and decay, and the other is the trimming of live wood, which results in a more vigorous output of fruit.
Our heavenly dad is fiercely protective and involved in every detail of our lives.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea… See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:6,10)
I love the lyrics from Amanda Cook’s song, “Kind.” Here is one stanza, that to me, reflects the heart of our heavenly dad.
Your love is a fury all its own.
Sweeping the dust and turning feet towards home.
Carrying the orphans and resetting broken bones.
Your love is a fury all its own.