Several years ago, I had the privilege of teaching “In My Father’s House” by Mary A. Kassian. I would say one of the most powerful teaching moments came when we took a straightforward, honest, and sometimes painful look at how our perception of our Heavenly Father is often influenced by with those of our earthly fathers. Below is an excerpt from this exercise:
Jesus used the analogy of earthly fathers and our Heavenly Father to teach the nature of God. He said if earthly fathers, who are evil, know how to act with kindness and generosity toward their children, how much more does the Heavenly Father care for His children (see Matt. 7:9-10; Luke 11:13; see also Hebrews 12:9-11)? Jesus taught that earthly fatherhood, even with its sinfulness, points to the perfect fatherhood of God.
To develop your relationship with God as Father, seek to recognize whether your perception of Him comes primarily from the portrait your earthly father has drawn for you or from the portrait of the perfect fatherhood of God as revealed in the Bible.
Read the following character qualities. Circle those you consider positive qualities of your earthly father. Underline those that were his negative qualities.
Look through the words you circled. Do you regard these positive fatherhood traits as being part of the fatherhood of God?
Look through the words you underlined. Emotionally, do you fear these negative fatherhood traits are also part of God’s character?
The question was then asked, “Have you unknowingly transferred any negative traits from your earthly father to your Heavenly Father?” Think about it.
If you had/have an angry earthly father, how might that affect your relationship with your Heavenly Father when you mess up? Would you expect Him to be angry or distant instead of loving and quick to forgive?
Or, if you had/have a father who is present – not only physically – but emotionally and spiritually as well, how could that positively affect your trust and faithfulness in your Heavenly Father?
Each trait listed can be viewed in similar ways.
Today is the perfect day to identify the source of our ideas about God. For those who did not experience the blessing of a good earthly father, this exercise may draw your attention to places in need of healing or correction in your thoughts about true fatherhood.
Because all earthly fathers are imperfect, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us appreciate the father He gave us (for reasons we may or may not understand) — and to look beyond them into the eyes of our Heavenly Father.
2 Corinthians 6:18