Today, too many children are living in homes without fathers. Broken homes or homes with broken marriages reflect a distorted picture of God’s love. Even in our own lives, our parents can reflect the image we see of who God is. We can see Him as a good father or a harsh one. Maybe even a neglectful and unresponsive one.
As a young girl, I did not know my father well. I may have seen him a handful of times. Without realizing it at the time, I gained an imperfect picture of who God was. My growing up years without a dad often made me feel unloved and unworthy to be loved. I felt forsaken, alone, and neglected. I saw God that way, too.
My mom, however, did reflect that unconditional love for me during my childhood, for which I am thankful. One parent reflected a distorted picture and the other showed me a true picture. Thankfully, in time the true picture overrode the faulty.
When I finally gave my life to Jesus Christ, I realized that God was not the neglectful uncaring father to me I had once thought. He was one who loved me and was always there for me. He would never leave me.
This blog is not about fathers being absent; it’s a charge to all parents. As parents, we reflect God to our children. How we do that, depends on how we see God in our lives.
The truth is, God is a good, good Father. He is the kind of Father that is very involved in the details of the life of His children.
He strengthens our weaknesses. He gives power to our meager efforts. When we feel faint, He is suddenly there lifting us up, whispering “We can do this together.”
Even after failing and falling time and time again, He is there to renew our hope and give us a fresh start.
We are His young – the youth of His choice. And like all youth, we can stumble as we learn how to walk in His ways. We succeed, then trip. We show great strides, and then we decline. Two steps forward, three steps back. God expects this because He is a good, good Father. He understands.
He walks with us; He does not rush us.
He leads us, He does not drag us.
As we learn who our Father in heaven truly is, we can then reflect Him to our children.
It is through our interactions with our kids that they can feel His presence in their life. Often it is our behaviors, responses, and involvement that will be the first Bible our children read.
Are we reflecting Him, or something else?
Isaiah 40:29-31 gives us a beautiful picture of Who God is to us, and it also gives us some next step actions that we can model to our children.
We read, “God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
A true reflection of our Heavenly Father to our children means we must:
1.) Be encouraging. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Nothing strengthens and increases potential in our kids like words of encouragement. Yes, we are expected to reprimand, correct, and guide, but sometimes we do this to a fault. We must balance our instruction with encouragement or we will embitter our kids.
2.) Be patient. “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall.” Our children are in the process of learning. To learn often includes failure. We must realize that the goal of raising our children is not perfection, but progress. Progress does not mean they get to the top of the ladder and then they are done. It means they are maturing more and more each day. Life is a process of constant growing. Let your children learn and fail; praise them when they learn, and help them up when they fail; as a result you will see them progress which is more lasting then reaching the unrealistic goal of perfection.
3.) Be hopeful. “…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.” We can almost live without anything but hope. Hope gives us an inner strength to carry on even when everything in life is bad. Kids today are experiencing a lot of fear and difficulties. As parents, we can help them get past their problems if we can show them they have hope in an eternal loving God, who is above their circumstances and has their best interest at hand. With every challenge in their life, show them that God is more powerful than what they are experiencing. Reading the Bible with your kids is a must, not a suggestion. It’s hearing the word that will increase their faith and ultimately give them hope in God when everything else is failing.
4.) Be proactive. “They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Don’t passively sit on the sidelines watching your children fail and fall. Join in their troubles, walk alongside them, whisper those encouraging words to them, and adding to all this, show them a way through and a path above their current struggles. If you need to orchestrate better circumstances for them, do it. Then show them how they can help themselves. Equip them. Train them. Resource them. Give them opportunities for success. Start small. For every small success encourages bigger ones. To be proactive means to be involved. Involved parents typically raise children who succeed.
The best way for you to reflect the perfect image of God to your children is first to know Who He truly is. We may not know everything, but the word of God has given us so much that we can know. Read, reflect, and then represent Him.
Your children’s first introduction to God is you.