This post is written in thanks to my father, Bill Markwood, without whom
I would not be the man and father that I am today.
One of the striking things about our Father in Heaven is the fact that He chose to present Himself to us in that way; as Father. I have often wondered why that is the form that He chose. Why not as mother? Why not as a genderless entity, a force of goodwill? Throughout history, there has been turmoil and struggle around the idea of fatherhood. There may be no other role in human society that has as much potential to do good or ill as that of "father".
I believe we begin to identify God the Father with our own fathers. We see God as engaged, caring, loving or a source of security. Conversely, others may see Him as aloof, absent, punishing or even malicious. Whatever our varying experience may be, we project it onto God. Some of us experienced loving, caring fathers; so it isn't a stretch for us to imaging that there is a Father figure that is bigger and stronger than we are who has our best interests in mind.
For others of us, that wasn't the case. Some people come from backgrounds that are not ones of peace and love, but of strife, disappointment, and in some cases, abuse. In this context it is easy to understand why some individuals have a hard time relating to a God who refers to Himself as "Father".
The epidemic of fatherlessness is all around us. 43% of American children live in a fatherless home (US Department of Census). 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (US D.H.H.S.). 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father (US Dept. of Health and Human Services). 85% of youths in prison grew up in a fatherless home. The statistics go on and on.
The incredible importance of a father is evident. So what is the antidote? Where do we find answers? Where do we go to for an example of what true fatherhood is to be?
God is our example of fatherhood(Matthew 5:48). He wants us (Ephesians 1:11-12). He will protect us (Isaiah 40:11). He will never leave us (Romans 8:38-39). He will guide us (Jeremiah 29:11). He will provide for us (Matthew 6:31-33). He will comfort us (Revelation 21:4). He loves us (Jeremiah 31:3).
None of us will ever be perfect fathers. However, we all have an example. We can turn to our Heavenly Father and learn how to be better fathers to our own children. We can learn from our mistakes. We can be the fathers that they deserve, so they will become the parents that our grandchildren deserve.
The solution is right in front of us. It is available to us all. But don't stop there. Reach out. Help others. Touch the life of a fatherless child. Encourage a man who feels that his mistakes are too huge. Make a difference. Change the statistics.
We will all stumble. We will all fall. But will we get up and live out the example set before us by our Father in Heaven?
We must try. There is no excuse not to.
Men: How do you struggle as a father? What kind of father do you want to be?
Women: What kind of father do you want for your kids? What can you do to facilitate that?