Knowing God as Father

When I was younger, I loved being independent. To me, independence gave me control over my circumstances. It meant that I was never late, always met my deadlines and could pursue what I was truly passionate about in an unencumbered way. When I was finally an adult and on my own, I would plan for the future well in advance and did so without having to ask permission or depend on someone else’s resources. For many reasons (culture, family, etc.), this was what I valued and I was very good at it. But, in recent years as I have journeyed deeper into scripture, benefited from strong Christian mentorship and prayed for a greater fulfillment of my purpose, I have experienced a shift away from this way of thinking. I have also realized through extensive prayer, that my background has influenced me to pursue and value independence that has hindered me from embracing God as my Father. Recent experiences enabled me to journey deeper in this area of discovery.

One of these experiences happened when I was sharing a meal and having conversation with someone that I would describe as a sage and giant in the faith. By sage I mean, founder of a theological institution, author of books on faith and theology, father and grandfather. Our conversation hovered around purpose and almost at the end of our meeting, he asked me about my parents, particularly, my father. Although I normally avoid speaking about my father I felt that in this setting, which I experienced to be very gentle, I could say anything. So I began the difficult task of explaining that my father and I had a less than perfect relationship (putting it mildly) but how much it didn’t matter since I was OK. Plus, I moved on from needing a father ages ago, I got over it! As I spoke those words, I tried to keep my eyes focused on the view of the skyscrapers and mountains in the distance ahead of me so as to hide the range of emotions effervescing beneath the surface. As expected, he listened graciously, as all sages do, then as he spoke, his words both challenged and encouraged me. One important revelation from this conversation was that my temptation to take control, had much to do with my view of my father and in a similar way that view also kept me from actively welcoming and fully experiencing God as Father.

A small clarification: Because I have spent the past few years of my life in a more contemplative space, and have had strong Christian mentorship in all aspects of my life, I have experienced many aspects of the Father heart of God and have learned that we cannot outrun the Father's love. My experience of His Fatherhood was more accidental than intentional. As I learned to intentionally accept God as Father, I came to celebrate being His child and now embrace this in all areas of life.

I have responded to these nudges by turning my attention, prayers and creative energy toward exploring this aspect of the nature of God.  This has resulted in a greater awareness of His identity and a deeper awareness of myself as His child. In turn, this awareness has resulted in a deeper understanding of my purpose, an increased sensitivity to my external (spiritual) environment, and more involvement in my communities. Each day, I continue to meditate on what scripture says about God the Father, what is promised and which aspect of His fatherhood I am most drawn to. The more that I have focused my attention on God as Father, the more I have been challenged and inspired. I have been challenged to re-visit areas of my life that spurred unhealthy independence and control. This is never pleasant but as I do so, I remember that pain ultimately enlarges my capacity to desire and receive from God.

Scripture shows us God's Fatherhood:  a father who pursues one lost child (Luke 15:11-32), a father who rewards pure devotion (Matt 6:18), a father who waits until we come to our senses, a father who isn’t offended by my neglect of Him and embrace of everything else.  And most important to me, He knows how to give good gifts (Matt 7:11). I have fed heavily on these scriptures in recent weeks and have felt my dialogue, acceptance and peace with God growing in a tangible way. I have also felt more confident in letting go of my swirling circumstances, placing them comfortably in His hands and welcoming His care. Although I wouldn’t describe any aspect of this journey as easy, it has been life-giving! The poem "Saying" [1] by Saint Syncletia of Alexandria excellently summarizes what my journey has felt like:

As you begin this eternal movement toward God,

you’ll find struggle and no shortage of suffering.

And afterwards, ineffable joy.

Those who would ignite a fire are at first choked by smoke,

their eyes stinging with hot tears. Even so, by this effort they obtain what they have sought:

The God Who is a consuming fire.

 

Jasmine Hamilton 

 

Jasmine was born in Guyana, raised in Barbados and moved to Vancouver in 2009 to attend graduate school. She loves flowers, poetry and having siblings, is interested in anything related to health and medicine and is thankful for those people who move to the back of the bus.

 

[1] Taken from Love's Immensity, Mystics on the Endless Life, Scott Cairns, pg. 25

 

 

Redemption Church

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