Today is Father’s day. There are many men who are literally fatherless in our culture and many more who feel fatherless, both emotionally and spiritually. Tom Wolfe maintains that “the deepest search of life” is the search to find a father. “The deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, nor merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.” No matter where we are on the spiritual journey, no matter what our age, as men we will continually be in need of fathering. We are in the words of John Eldredge, “Unfinished Men.” There resides in our souls a hunger for strength and wisdom outside of ourselves that we can relate to in our search for wholeness.
We all have to acknowledge that we were never perfectly fathered by our earthly fathers, because our earthly fathers no matter how affirming and loving they were, could not do what only our heavenly Father accomplishes in adopting us as His sons. He fathers us as his sons. It is imparative that we give up the expectations of our earthly fathers to have done more for us. It is vital that we work through our disappointments, anger, and resentments toward our fathers. I know I had to go through this process in my life. I began doing this in my thirties and it continued into my sixties, until my father passed away.
I learned to honor my dad for who he was, while exploring those dark places in my soul, that exposed my deep need for the affirming love that only my heavenly Father could pour into my soul. My earthly father was not able to give me what I needed. Learning to love my dad for who he was, and honoring him for being my dad, allowed me to clear a space within my male soul to receive to love that my heavenly Father so graciously and generously desires to grant me. I know more and more what it means to be fathered by my heavenly Father, to receive that strength and wisdom that Wolfe talks about.
So I encourage any man who has not done the inner “house cleaning” of his soul, where the hurt, emptiness and loneliness of not being affirmed by an earthly father, to allow the light of Jesus to come into those dark place. Allow Jesus to bring you forth from places where you have lived for so long. As you learn what it is to be adopted into his family, allow these words to penetrate into your soul. “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has also made you also an heir.” (Gal 4:6-7). As you turn to trust Jesus as you healer, similar to the prodigal son, you can turn toward home and are reconciled to your heavenly Father. It is the Father then that grants each of us sonship.
Here is a prayer from John Eldredge to pray in this regard. “Father, okay. Okay. I don’t know how much of this I believe, but I know this – I need a father. There is so much in me that yet needs fathering. And I don’t want to live fatherless anymore. So come to me, and help me make the shift. You have taken me home, through Christ, to be your own son. I accept that. I give my life back to you, to be your true son. Father me. Father me.” Surrender to the affirming love of your heavenly Father. Listen daily for his affirming word, “You are my beloved.” These words are a reality, because through Jesus you have been adopted into the inner circle of life within the very presence of God.