Whenever anyone mentions the whole God-is-your-father thing meaning think of God actually like you think about your parents, instead of just saying the word Father at the beginning of prayers, all I can think of is that you have to be careful about that because some people have bad fathers so that could give them the wrong impression about what God is like.
But I always think – well, I’m ok for that because my dad’s a good dad so I don’t have to watch that because it’s ok for me to think of God as being like my dad – but I never actually get on to actually thinking about God as being like my dad.
Read that sentence again a few times. It honestly does make sense.
I once gave this web site address to my dad so he might read this, so I’d better think carefully about what I say! Dad: if you ever do read this, it’s absolutely fine for you to read it, but just don’t get too big-headed…
Because literally yesterday I actually thought about what I would gain if I did imagine God was a bit like my dad, and it’s a lot.
You see, my dad is the ultimate example for me of strength through weakness. He is the only person I know who has really been broken by God and come out better off. You see David wasn’t kidding when he said “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” to God – God really does do that to people. But my dad’s the only person I know who (after years of “crying out by day, but you do not answer”) eventually got to where he could say “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One,” “Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you.”
What is important is that my dad’s brokenness has not gone – he’s not some kind of cheesey “even stronger than before,” he’s weak – and God is strong through him.
So what has this got to do with God – surely God isn’t strong through weakness – he’s strong through strength, right? But this is the thing that thinking about this has really taught me – maybe that’s not the important thing.
What was the Psalm I was quoting? Psalm 22. And what’s special about that Psalm? It’s the Psalm Jesus quoted at the worst and most crucial time of his life: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I always thought that that is the real reason it was important to Jesus to say that he was from the line of David, because this Psalm and others like it perfectly sum up Jesus’ life: strength through weakness.
OK, OK so Jesus is strong through weakness, but God the father is strong through strength, surely?
Well, maybe – I don’t know, but here’s what I thought: I don’t care!
I’ve come to a profound point in my life – I’ve never been here before – there’s a point of theology about this, and I don’t care! I don’t care what God is really like on some abstract plane, I care about whether I can get my head around what he’s like in some concrete plane.
Something I have trouble with with God is finding hime love-able. I can sort of be grateful (abstractly, anyway), but I don’t really feel there’s anything there to love.
But thinking about God as being like my dad – weak, broken, struggling to survive under the weight of … everything – that makes me able to love him.
(Blimey I’m making my dad sound like a psycho – I don’t mean it like that.)
If I think of the garden of Eden as God crushed under the guilt of starting all this when he knew this would happen, I can love him – if I think of God sending Jesus because it was the least he could do after he put us in this situation – if I think of God inspiring those beautiful, freeing words “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless,” then I can love him – I can love God!
And yes, it’s theologically incorrect, and I really do care about that – (I’m not as postmodern as I think I am) – but it helps … I feel like I’ve taken a step forward here, and that doesn’t happen often.
So, if by just thinking something wrong I can feel something right then I’ll do it, and maybe you should too. What’s more important: that God is all-powerful or that God is love? No contest in my book: otherwise we’d just have the one testament.