One’s image of his/her dad may have a strong influence on one’s image of God. In my case, there are some interesting facets to this idea.
I would not describe my dad as an outwardly spiritual or godly man. There were many things about his character that opposed this image. In the lessons of life he left me, there are those with both negative and positive impact. There are things I learned from my dad that I chose not to emulate and things I most surely chose to emulate. As much as possible, I like to brush aside the negative influences and relegate them to forgetfulness. I think, in my dad’s case, the positives far outweigh the negatives for, deep within him was the spirit of a very good person and a loving father at conflict with himself. This man loved fun and loved sharing fun with others. This man had a large and giving heart. This man recognized, many times, that You were pursuing him and he kept coming back to You from places where he’d try to hide. He literally found You and You became a factor in his life right before my eyes. This awakening in his later years, aside from his inherent goodness as a person, only increased my love and admiration for him. In the language of today’s youth, I thought my dad was a “cool dude.” Yet, I’m not really so sure my memories of my dad affect my image of You. I think they more nearly reflect my image of myself.
I too am one who feels the breath of the hound of heaven hot on my trail and keep coming back to You from places where I may hide. I too love my family and want to share in fun things with them. I too am in constant conflict with myself. There are indeed many things in the image of my father that shape me more than my image of You – and I wonder if the same thing is happening in my own children.
If there is even a small amount of truth in the idea that a dad shapes his children’s image of God, then an awesome burden is placed on dad’s shoulders. If my own children’s image of God is based, at least in part, on their image of me then I am really concerned about what they think of You. In this regard I am like my own dad – not particularly godly in the image I project. I wonder if I am even as good a person at heart as my father was.
I have a feeling that the cycle of this child/parent scenario plays itself out repeatedly through each generation and acts more as an obstacle than an aid to the formation of an image of You as our loving Father. That is a most sobering thought. It’s sobering because I’m not so sure my children see the image of God in me, and more sobering still because what they do see in me may work againsttheir image of You.
Those closest to us see well and know our hypocrisies, our lack of humility and our manipulations. These are obstacles for them to see You in dad. How can dad pray so much and spend so much time with God and be so ungodly? It’s a good question. Somewhere in the answer is the reality of humanity, at its best or at its worst, always falling short.