Keith Hernandez is one of baseball’s top players. He is a lifetime .300 hitter who has won numerous Golden Glove awards for excellence in fielding. He’s won a batting championship for having the highest average, and also the Most Valuable Player award in his league. He's even won the World Series. Yet with all his accomplishments, he has missed out on something crucially important to him – his father’s acceptance and recognition — knowing that what he has accomplished has value in the eyes of his father.
In a very candid interview about his relationship with his father, Keith stated that he asked his father, “Dad, I have a lifetime .300 batting average. What more do you want?” His father replied, “But someday you’re going to look back and say, ‘I could have done more.'”
When you hear God referred to as “Father,” what adjectives come to mind? For many, the list may look something like this:
- Emotionally distant
Of course, not everyone has had bad experiences with their father. But those who do often transfer those negative mental pictures to God. Really though, isn’t this looking at things entirely backwards?
Say for example, your father’s job caused him to spend a lot of time traveling so you rarely saw him when you were growing up. This experience might sway you to associate the word “distant” with the word “father.” It might be natural then, when God is referred to as “Father,” to think of God as also being “distant” and not there for you when you need him.
But that seems backwards, since God is the standard of what a father should be, not vice versa. God is the mold, the pure definition of “father.” Our own fathers (as wonderful or as miserable as they may be) are like the clay made from the mold, which imperfectly represent the original. Our own fathers cannot tell us much about our Father in Heaven, any more than imperfect copies of a great work of art can tell us much about the greatness of the original masterpiece.
Don’t let your relationship with your earthly father hinder the one you can have with your Lord. Your earthly father may have been wonderful, terrible, somewhere in between, or absent entirely. Regardless, he is not the measure of God. God is the measure of men and women.
If you didn’t have a caring, loving father who was always there when you needed him, you can find comfort in knowing your Heavenly Father is, was, and will be all of those things. He will always be there to cherish you and, even though he may discipline you, he will never stop loving you. You do not have to prove anything to him or live up to any unrealistic, lofty standards.
This “Father in Heaven” we know as God, fathers us in the ways that our earthly father could not or would not father us. God loves you enough to accept you as you are, but loves you even more in that he doesn’t want to leave you that way. Like a perfect Father, he is there to guide, correct, teach, and be an example so you can develop into your true potential. That is why he sent his Holy Spirit as a counselor to live in you. Unlike a father who may not have been there, acknowledged your worth, or given you the attention you needed, God is always just a prayer away.
Here’s a Father’s Love Letter to you from God Almighty, artfully comprised from various verses in the Bible:
- You may not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1).
- I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2).
- I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3).
- Even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:29-31).
- For you were made in my image (Genesis 1:27).
- In me you live and move and have your being for you are my offspring (Acts 17:28).
- I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5).
- I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12).
- You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book (Psalm 139:15-16).
- I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26).
- You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
- I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).
- And brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6).
- I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me (John 8:41-44).
- I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16).
- And it is my desire to lavish my love on you simply because you are my child and I am your Father. (1 John 3:1).
- I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11).
- For I am the perfect father (Matthew 5:48).
- Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand (James 1:17).
- For I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33).
- My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
- My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18).
- And I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
- I will never stop doing good to you (Jeremiah 32:40).
- For you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5).
- I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 32:41).
- And I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3).
- If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me (Deuteronomy 4:29).
- Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
- For it is I who gave you those desires (Philippians 2:13).
- I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
- For I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
- I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
- When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18).
- As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart (Isaiah 40:11).
- One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes (Revelation 21:3-4).
- And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (also Revelation 21:3-4).
- I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus (John 17:23).
- For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed (John 17:26).
- He is the exact representation of my being (Hebrews 1:3).
- He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31).
- And to tell you that I am not counting your sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
- Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (also 2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
- His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you (1 John 4:10).
- I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Romans 8:31-32).
- If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me (1 John 2:23).
- And nothing will ever separate you from my love again (Romans 8:38-39).
- Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7).
- I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15).
- My question is: Will you be my child? (John 1:12-13).
- I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32).
Choose the statements most meaningful to you and write them down. Keep them handy to read and pray over when you believe you need a reminder of your Heavenly Father’s love for you, especially when another person, be it your father or someone else, hurts your feelings, minimizes your worth, or ignores you.
However, there is a trap to avoid. Just as it is wrong to compare God to the actions and attitudes of an earthly father, it is equally incorrect to do the reverse. The more you embrace the loving fatherhood of God you have so desperately craved, there may be the tendency to magnify your earthly father’s shortcomings. Please, don’t fall into that temptation. No one can measure up to God — not you, not me, and not our fathers. None of us are perfect. We have all fallen short (Romans 3:23).
Ask God to open your heart to see your father through his eyes. Slowly, the pain of the past will begin to dissipate. The wounds so deeply imbedded will begin to heal. Given time, your heart will accept the concept of forgiving your earthly father, just as God has forgiven you for your faults and sins. It takes time, but it can happen.
I personally know it for a fact. Because God is such a loving, caring, and perfect Father to me, I can now view my earthly father as another human being struggling with his worth and purpose, with talents and flaws, achievements and failures, who is loved by his Creator ― just like me.