Sometimes, the joy of being a dad flows over and through me for no specific reason. It’s not a birthday or Father’s Day; it’s merely another regular day, and I think of my children, all six of them.
I’m amazed that God granted me the privilege of being father to six children, even though Trese and I lost one quickly to death. The one who is no longer with us has shaped us, and each of the other five continue to shape us. We impact them and they impact us because we share life.
The Bible depicts the divine as our Father. He is the One who is Heaven — that place which is not on any map and cannot be seen by any telescope. His name is hallowed — honored above all names because He supersedes and is behind all things. He has a kingdom — where He alone is in command. He has a will — a determination for his creation.
But, of course, “he” language seems too limiting. All attributes of “she” are caught up in the divine, as well, but patriarchal societies produced people who had difficulty seeing this. Difficulty, but not impossibility. They recognized that God and then the Son caught up all that is human within themselves. God is not defined by testosterone or estrogen; God is unique and utterly whole.
So while I connect with God in some small way because I am a father, mothers connect with God in similar ways. We have the blessing of children and all that means.
Some, however, do not have children. In fact, some of the greatest of God’s servants have been without biological children. They learn to “parent” in other ways by taking others under their wings of care.
There are so many people in need of care, in need of a true parent. We all have parents, but we do not all have people who function as parents. Biological parents may drift away or be taken away by their own design or by the design of others. No matter the circumstance, each child, no matter his or her age, needs someone to walk life’s paths with them.
So, whether we are the mother or father of a biological child or if we are the “parent” to someone (old or young) in need of care, we can connect with the God of the universe who is the ultimate parent of us all. We can know God better by seeing ourselves as the “parent” of others. We care, but God cares beyond our expectations or imaginings.
As we are parents, we also are children.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ— if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:14-17, NRSV).