I've read a lot about the crisis of fatherhood- how society is breaking down partly because fathers are not being fathers. I've also read a lot of psychology articles, over the years, describing how children are affected by absent fathers. And then, how our relationship with God is affected by our relationship with our earthly fathers. All very interesting, I've thought, as I shrugged and moved on.
More than interesting, I think now. I've come to a place in my life where my concept of God is being challenged- a kind of fork in the road. God was once, in my early childhood, a kind of distant deity- the God of Sunday school and Anglican church, God on Sundays. He's also, since university, been a more personal God- the God of pentecostalism (or charismatic church), my friend and also the one I love to worship. But the God that Jesus told us about- Father, Abba, Daddy- I think I get that on an intellectual level, but maybe it's only starting to become a little more real to me now.
Why does it matter? Well, if you're a Christian, it's not enough to know the God who sits on the altar on Sundays (or Saturdays), in a white robe and sandals, stroking His beard and watching us all go through the liturgy / lift our hands and close our eyes as we sway a little / dance in the aisle (depending on your denomination). Apparently, he's brutally, super personal. Apparently, he really wants to know you, and really, really wants to be known by you. According to Jesus, this is why he went to the cross, knowing what that would mean- the nails, the blood, the vinegar drink, the crown of thorns.
I'm not sure what could be more personal than Father. He's not God in the corner office, sending his son to board meetings because He'd rather play golf. (Because, in Christianity, Jesus is relatable, the Holy Spirit is mystical, but who is this God?!). Father means involvement. It means, as Tim Keller illustrates, that at 3 am, I can go to him and demand a glass of water. Or, like a story I saw yesterday on Twitter, I can interrupt a general's speech for a hug, because I haven't seen my daddy in months.
I probably don't have to say I never had that kind of experience with my father- or, at least, I don't remember it. It's become as common as dust, and maybe even fashionable, to have father issues. But it doesn't matter what kind of earthly father you have or had; that's what God's about; making things new. So all of this is a little strange to me, because there's nothing logical about it. My other views of God can kind of be supported by a scientific mind- a belief in a supreme intelligence, or even that we kind of need something bigger than us to worship. But this, God as father: that's actually an invitation. A dare. A risk. It's God inviting me to go on a new adventure with him.
Will I go?