God as an Underappreciated Parent
A smilidon carefully watches over her two cubs as they play with a couple of sticks. There is a rustling in the woods. It's Father! He has returned home with the spoils of his latest hunting trip. The smilodon embraces her husband, pleased with his success. The family will have food this month. From the hides, she will be able to make blankets and coats.
Later that night, as the smilodon father sleeps between his family and the mouth of the cave, he hears a noise. He sits up, gazing into the darkness, prepared to fight whatever danger may threaten his wife and children. The cubs sleep soundly, knowing that they are safe as long as their father is near.
Five thousand years later, a housecat returns from a hard day at work. He put in an extra hour today, and his wife chides him for being late. He isn't thanked for the hours he has spent working hard to provide for his family. They don't see what he does, and they take for granted that there will be money in the bank and food on the table.
Sadly, this happens way too much in modern society. The way our techno-industrial civilization works, the role of protector and provider has become largely invisible and its importance has been lost to many. Certain individuals such as Murphy Brown seem to think that a second parent is redundant and unnecessary. How much more unappreciated, then, is a parent who is unseen?
Have you ever thought about just what the phrase "Heavenly Father" means? It's not just referring to the relationship between Jehovah and Jesus, because Jesus is also called the "Everlasting Father". Isaiah tells us that Jesus had no descendants.
53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? (Or "Who shall speak of his descendents?") for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
In a seeming contradiction, he then goes on to talk about Jesus' descendants.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
If he had no children before he was removed from the land of the living, who is this "seed"? Jesus made it very plain that his family are those who do the will of God the Father. We who put our faith in Him are the Lord's children, and He is our Father.
Now there are certain things that fathers are expected to do. This is not an exhaustive list, of course. The first thing that comes to mind is "protector". Some protectors are highly visible. Take individuals like the Guardian Angels. They wear white shirts and bright red berrets to make themselves highly visible in order to deter crime. And I'm sure we've all read graphic stories about spandex-clad crasaders who swoop in at the last minute to save the life of a victim. But the best protectors are those you don't see. They're the undercover cops who are out removing criminals from the street before they find victims. They're the guys behind the security cameras, watching for danger every minute. They're the soldiers and sailors whose very presence keeps those who would anihilate us at bay. Do you ever think about what God protects us from? We will probably never know most of the horrors that could befall us if God were not protecting us.
Secondly, God is our provider. This doesn't mean that He just hands us our daily bread, although that is sometimes how it works. He does not want us to grow up shiftless, so He affords us the opportunity to work for our food and shelter. I've heard those who have refused to thank God for their food because they feel they earned it. And they are right, they did earn it. But what they fail to consider is that they are incredibly fortunate that they are among those who can work. There are a whole lot of people in the world who would like to work hard for an honest living but lack either the power or the opportunity. I'm one of them. And yet the Lord makes sure I have food to eat and a roof over my head, and the tools I need to do the tasks I need to do. It's not top-shelf, but it is sufficient.
So why, then, does God let bad things happen to His children when they aren't doing anything wrong? There are a lot of reasons for that, but one of the biggest is that He also has the role of educator. God is concerned about our material needs and our physical well-being, but He is far more concerned about our spiritual growth, and He is willing to sacrifice our other needs if that it what is required for us to learn.
Now if God is our Father, who is our mother? Here's a hint: it's not Mary. The one who takes on the roles traditionally given to the mother- that's God as well. He is the giver of life. He created all was created. He is the ultimate source of life. He is also our nurturer. As Peter said, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness." Not only is God the giver of life, He is the sustainer of life and giver of everything we need to grow and flourish in the life He has created for us. God is also our comforter. "Comforter" is among the chiefest of the Holy Spirit's titles. He fills us with the knowledge of God's goodness and affords us the comfort of knowing that no matter what happens, in the end, we are destined for a joyous everlasting life in His loving embrace, and no one can prevent that from happening.
Tomorrow is Mothers' day. A month from now is Fathers' day. We have set aside these special days of the year to honor our parents. Because God does so much for us as our Heavenly parent, I think it is highly appropriate for us to give a little extra glory to God as well and thank Him for everything He does as our Father. Let's take a moment right now to share some of the things that God has done for us.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.