I was reading through some old postings this morning, searching for something and I noticed something in one of my Lenten postings from earlier this year that struck a cord with me, so much so that I decided to pull the section out of the that reflection and repost it here.
My Lenten discipline this past year was centered on prayer and this insight came out of my efforts to deal with the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer. The section follows:
What happened to me was that I got stuck on the idea of the Father who is the subject of the prayer form that Jesus gave to his disciples. More specifically, “Our Father who, and I began thinking of a list of things that might follow that phrase, beyond the original, “art in heaven.”
Here is what I came up with upon reflection.
Our Father who:
sees all things, even the things hidden in our hearts, yet who still sustains us and forgives us.
knows all things and from whom nothing can be hidden, even the future.
judges all of things impartially, for he is not a respecter of persons and whose mercy endures forever.
tests all things as Abraham was, as Job was, as Joseph was, as Daniel was, as the Baptist was, as Peter was, as we all have been or will be.
gives us examples of faith in those who pass those tests and show us the way forward.
brought Israel out of Egypt and brings us out of the Egypt of sin and desolation into eternal life.
sustains us though every trial and if necessary gives us a way of escape.
works all things together for our good and counts even the hairs on our head more than many sparrows.
is faithful, even when we are not.
forgives us, even when we were yet sinners and now despite our continued sin.
freely gives us all things, meeting our every need in Christ Jesus.
sent Christ and also sends us to do the good work he has planned ahead for us to do.
raised Christ from the dead and will raise us on the last day.
That only touches the surfact of Our Father who, but you get the drift. God is the one who initiates, we are the ones who respond.
God is more than the God who is, even though some people have a problem even accepting that. He is not an unapproachable other, the transcedent nonbeing, or the disinterested artist who sculpted his masterpiece and then stepped back and let it go. No, He is the Father who acts in loving care of His children.
That got me to thinking about my fatherhood. I wondered what my daughter would respond with if someone asked her to categorize me in the same way. What would she say to “My father who…”? How would that compare to how I see myself? Would I pass the test, even marginally?
We are often told how we should imitate Christ, and that is sound Christian counsel. However, as fathers, we men should consider how we should imitate our Heavenly Father. Doesn’t that sound reasonable? Just as an oak tree should exhibit oakness, fathers should exhibit fatherhood. In a world, where dangers to children are multiplying at an alarming rate, fathers need to step up to the task God has given them. They are the hedges that protect, the foundations on which to build, the grace to help in times of need. In effect, they are God’s expression of His fatherhood in a child’s everyday life.
So, with that in mind, may God grant you grace today to be the father God designed you to be, an ongoing witness in your childrens’ lives of their Heavenly Father. And, may He forgive each of us where we fail to live up to that example. Amen.
Thanks for reposting this – I must have missed it the first time around, but I enjoyed it. I pray God gives me the grace to reflect His Fatherhood in my relationship with my daughter (and any other children God might give me in the future).
Speaking of prayer and the Lord’s prayer, Luther wrote some letters to his barber on prayer in which he encouraged him to use the Lord’s prayer as a template for prayer, rather than a simple recitation. For example you might pray “Our Father – thank you that you give us grace to approach you not as subjects, but as children. Thank you, Father, for adopting me in Christ” and so on – following the form of the Lord’s prayer.