Jesus tells us to pray “Our Father” when we pray, addressing God as our very own father. Too often, though, the word “father” brings more bad memories than good ones. That can greatly influence our ‘father’ concept. So how can we correctly understand God as our ‘Father’?
Jesus told a story in Luke 15:11-32 that wonderfully illustrates what God our Father is really like. We call it the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but it should better be called the Parable of the Loving Father, for that is the real focus. The story is about a younger brother who took his inheritance, one half of the family estate, and wasted it in careless living. He found himself living with pigs he was taking care of, longing to have some of their food. So he decided to go back and try to get a job working for his father, but the questions was whether the father would take him back. He was embarrasses and humiliated. He had wasted half of his father’s life savings. He thought he knew it all but clearly he didn’t. He was miserable from his sin.
Think of how it was for the father. He lost a large part of the fortune he had worked so long and hardtop amass. He lost his reputation in the community for surely the servants and others spread the word of what happened. Dysfunctional families make good gossip. They talked about him behind his back, blaming either him or the son, or both! But the worst pain for the father was that he had lost his son, whom he loved. His dream for the boys future is shattered and he is left with a huge hole in his heart. Words cannot express the pain, sadness and loss the father is feeling. But look what happens when the son returns.
First of all, the father sees the son first. He’s been watching far into the distance for his son’s return. When he sees his son in the far distance throws aside all dignity and pride and runs to his son, embracing him and welcoming him home. He runs to him. He can’t get there fast enough. He showers him with kisses, the sing of forgiveness. He gives him a robe, the sign of honor. He is also given a ring, the sign of authority. That, too, is restored by his father.
Sandals are given him, a sign of freedom, and a feast, the sign of a joyful welcome. They celebrate because of the father’s joy at his safe return. The father did all this because of his love for the son.
What does it mean to call God ‘Father’? That’s what it means. No matter what we have done or for how long, God knows and loves us anyway. He is waiting to welcome and forgive, to restore and to celebrate. That is the God we are praying to. Do you need to come back to Him? He waits with open arms. Enjoy His love and restoration. He is our “Father.”
(Written by Jerry Schmoyer, 2014. You can find more of his writings at http://www.christiantrainingonline.org/. If you have questions or suggestions feel free to contact him at email@example.com)