Rf Memo 006
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006 Thinking Wrongly About the Father

I attended my church's retreat for men last weekend. During the first session in the weekend, the Holy Spirit was very active in pointing out to each of us, internally, things that hindered us from devoting ourselves fully to the pursuit of God.

One of the things He pointed out to me was a notion that I was constructing in my own thinking, to the effect that God left us to contend with the principalities and powers that rule this world without coming to help us. I had accused God of lying to me, in one instance. In another, I felt as though the opposition I was facing from the evil one over resolving debts that I owe was unfair, and that I was being asked to fight things I could not even see or understand.

Of course, God has done nothing of the sort. He has not lied to us about anything, nor has He abandoned us to contend with things we cannot handle. Quite the contrary, in fact: He is delivering us from those very things and teaching us how to overcome them.

I realized, though, that the feeling of being left with things I could not handle was familiar to me. You see, my own father was mostly passive. He taught me a few things, but mostly he was unavailable to me, having more than enough of his own demons to contend with. So I grew up feeling as though I had to learn how to handle things all by myself.

As small children, we all get our first and most lasting lessons about God by experiencing our own fathers. What we experience from our fathers will always color what we think about God. Was your father angry and abusive? You will tend to see God as judgmental and overbearing. Was your father absent or distant? You will tend to see God as distant and unavailable. Was your father sexually immoral in ways that hurt or embarrassed you? You may have difficulty trusting God, and doubt that He is always good. And so on.

I'm not saying we cannot overcome such tendencies. We can, and we will have His help in doing so. However, we need to be aware of how we're bent. We need to understand that we are likely to lean in the direction of God being certain ways that He is not. And knowing ourselves in this matter, we can adjust our view of God and learn to expect more from Him than our feelings tell us we should expect. Our wounded feelings need not rule over what we know of God, the Father.

Spend some time asking God direct questions about how you see Him. Ask, “What false notions about you did I catch from my father? How should I see you differently?” Think about what your own father was like—both good and bad things—and how that might affect how you think about God, the Father. And then let Him communicate with you about how you see Him, and what He is really like.

Trust me when I tell you, He is always going to be better than you think He is—more loving, more caring, more available, more powerful, more persistent, more forgiving, and so on. He's infinite.

I came away from the conference feeling able to trust God to help me overcome things by which I formerly felt overwhelmed. We all can have that confidence, if we give Him the opportunity to show us where our own feelings are affecting our view of Him.

Phil Weingart


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