Eliana informed me at the dinner table a few nights ago that I was not her father, but that her father was in heaven. I am her dad, God is her father. I love that she is already thinking theologically, and surprising me with her thoughts on the Bible. After being taken aback by her comment I was a little hurt inside. I am over it now. If she views God as her father already that is a really good beginning to her spiritual journey. My job is to train her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Part of that process is forming a view of the Father in her heart and mind that is true to who He has revealed Himself to be. Where I (as a flawed father) will fail her in many ways throughout her life, he will never fail her. He has promised to always be there and always be the same. I will not always be there, and I know that I change, sometimes daily. The conversation brought forward many thoughts in my mind about what it means to be a father. Unfortunately I sometimes feel as though I am wandering aimlessly in the wilderness trying to learn exactly what it means to be a good dad. I want so badly to be the perfect father to my children, even though I know that goal is unattainable. No father has ever been perfect, and I will not be the first to reach that mark. With that understanding in mind, I take comfort in the fact that my daughter simply views me as dad. Her father is far greater than I, and He is the measure of perfection toward which I strive. I am merely a surrogate, a physical representation of a non- physical reality. I am not claiming some kind of heretical incarnation, just trying to describe the gravity of the position of fatherhood. Please don't congregate outside my home with torches preparing to burn me for claiming to be God. I claim nothing of the sort. But seriously, if we all as dads consider the fact that we will shape the way our children view their Father in heaven, will that not make us more aware of what a daunting task it is. It is a task we are not suited for, apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and His guidance in our parenting.
May I learn to rely on the guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit in my fathering, and may my children then learn the nature of their Father by watching the behavior of their dad.