“Be careful, sweetie,” my dad’s strong voice cautioned me to avoid the object in the road. He’d just removed the training wheels on my Schwinn, so even though I was seated securely on the banana seat and both hands on the handlebars, the front tire still wobbled a little. I focused intently on the path ahead. “Yes, Father,” I said. I veered to the left just a little and swerved to avoid the obstacle.
“Father is one of the most familiar and commonly used name of God.” —from my soon-to-be-released devotional, Experiencing God Through His Names
However, some cannot relate to God as a caring, tender, and involved dad, like mine, because they’ve been disappointed by their own negative personal paternal experiences. So what’s the big deal about “spiritual fatherlessness”? A lot. According to a recent study, “15 million American children — one in three — live without a father. In the past decade, families with two parents in the home has dropped significantly. From poor academic achievement and teenage pregnancy to drug use and crime, most social problems cannot be properly understood without considering the absence of fathers in homes. Many of the social problems we face are a direct result of the fatherless home. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million.”
Spiritual fatherlessness causes a breach between the natural father, spiritual father, and heavenly father. The devil destroys harmony between our most valued relationships. This is not necessarily a physical breach, but a spiritual battle waging war against those that mean the most to us. I am the firstborn of four children; my dad always called me princess. I was the apple of his eye. However, for a few years, Dad and I exchanged only harsh words, disagreement, and disconnection. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the enemy tactics to divide our family. I was rebellious and un-submissive and could not respond to my father’s attempts to show me his love. It’s interesting that this is one of the final verses in the Old Testament: ” . . . and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their father lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). Truly a sign of the times.
At seventeen, I was careening deep into drug addiction. I stayed high as much as possible, trying to fill the emptiness in my life with the highest high or the cutest guy while my need for affection only increased. I couldn’t wait to move out of my parents’ home. My family pulled strings to get me a volunteer summer job at a Christian camp. The camp staff assigned me lists of chores, such as washing hundreds of dishes in the mess hall, raking piles of pine needles around the campgrounds, and even moving logs around the outdoor campfire ring.
Whenever I complained or threw fits over doing my chores or smoked cigarettes and dope, the camp staff said, “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8) Their words, repeated over and over, immersed me for two weeks. The words rang in my ears, I couldn’t get the phrase off my mind. The staff didn’t tell me to change anything about my appearance, attitude, or addictions. Instead, they showed me what the invitation of love looked like. They were kind; they offered the true love of God without forcing me to accept it.
As a youngster in Sunday school, I’d learned Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” After two weeks of experiencing how “love covers a multitude of sins,” I embraced it. Submitting to the overwhelming love of God, I allowed His abundant love to cover my multitude of sins. One night in my cabin, I submitted to the overwhelming love of Father God. He had reached out to me, and I, a most unlikely choice, finally grasped His hand. His abundant love did cover my multitude of sins. I accepted the invitation to live a new life. My life was transformed, and I was given a fresh start and the divine connection to my Heavenly Father was restored. But there was still work to do.
1. I had to communicate with God as my Perfect Father.
The breach in my relationship with God could only be restored through the Son. The blessing came when I came to know God as my Perfect Father. I began to believe God’s love could cover the things that held me captive: drugs and alcohol, lying and stealing, promiscuity and drug dealing. It was finally clear: I didn’t need to clean up my act before coming to God. He loved me passionately just the way I was. James 1:17 says, “Every Good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
2. I had to invite God to heal my father wound.
I was searching for meaning, purpose, and identity in things and people that could never fill my God-shaped void. In God there is no lack. God does not want the enemy to rob us of blessing, destiny, purpose. I asked God heal my father-wound caused by my own decision to turn from my earthly and my Heavenly Father’s will. God showed me how to release every disappointment that had been imagined or feared and to put my trust in Him. We cannot go back and re-write history, but we can get to the place where we allow God to heal us. This takes trust and transparency.
James 5:16says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
3. I had to ask God to help me find a spiritual father, be a father.
Once we allow God to heal our father wound, we will want to share our joy with others. It helps to keep accountable and also to share our victories and defeat. We get to choose our own spiritual parents. Let God help you find a father and be a father.
God wants us to show the world of “spiritual fatherlessness” what it means to be included the family of God. So let’s share how wonderful it is to be loved by a perfect Heavenly Father. And it will make all the difference in our destiny and theirs, too. Psalm 68:5–6 says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing but the rebellious live in a sun scorched land.”