It’s easy for us to condemn the religious leaders for their heinous crimes. But for many of us, the only reason we haven’t turned on Jesus is that we haven’t yet chosen whether Jesus is Lord or we are. We hear messages about Jesus having absolute control over our lives, and we shout “Amen!” But far too many of us leave Jesus “at church” and run our own lives, without letting him govern a single thought or action. In every heart there is a throne and a cross: If self is on the throne, Jesus must be on the cross; if Jesus is on the throne, self must be on the cross. If you haven’t chosen yet, one day you will.
Jesus’ resurrection assures us that God is going to overturn all the diabolical plans of God’s enemies for good and overwrite those schemes with victory. It shows us that he is in control and that he has rigged the system for the completion of the Great Commission. So why not bet your life on the one thing you know is certain?
The wound of the Absent Dad says, “You can’t rely on anyone. Sooner or later, this will all come crashing down.” But can I repeat myself here? Your father is not the Heavenly Father. He says to us in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or abandon you” (CSB). Never. That word, in Greek, has a very specific meaning. It means … never! With Jesus, we don’t just have an empty promise. We have a history to demonstrate God’s never-ending love. Jesus wouldn’t leave us when we had spurned him and walked away. He wouldn’t leave us even when we made our bed in hell. Far from being the kind of dad who would walk out on us to pursue a better option, Jesus had a better option, but he refused to be happy until we had returned home.
Connect with your kids. You can give your children relational and emotional capital for them to cash in on for the rest of their lives. The alternative is to continue a cycle of distance, usually cloaked in good intentions. Emotionally distant dads usually aren’t aware of the damage they’re causing. They think, “I’m doing my job, because I’m providing for the family.” Sadly, many men feel like they are good dads if they provide food and shelter for their families. To that, I ask you: “Really? Is that the standard?” As pastor John Bryson says, possums give their offspring food and shelter. Is that the bar we want for godly fatherhood? How can we break this cycle of emotional deficits? Not simply by trying harder. We become emotionally invested fathers when we see the emotional investment of our Heavenly Father.
The most damaging effect of an upbringing with a Time-bomb Dad is how it affects your view of the Heavenly Father. If your father was dangerous, you probably have a hard time trusting anyone in positions of power, God included. How can you trust that this Father will really take care of you? What if he happens to be in a bad mood? Your Heavenly Father could not be more different than the Time-bomb Dad. David said, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8). Time-bomb Dads abound in anger, and they’re slow to show affection. So those of you who grew up in those homes may find it hard to believe that the opposite really exists. I’m telling you: It does.
For kids who grow up with a never-satisfied dad, proving themselves to others often becomes the dominating theme of their lives. Understandably, they carry this perspective of themselves into their relationship with God. Whatever you do, you have this nagging, unspoken doubt, “Have I done enough?” Or you think, “I bet God would be happier with me if I were a better Christian, if I were a better witness, a better wife.” You constantly compare yourself to others and say, “If I were like him or her, I bet God would be happy with me ...” Yet somehow, it never seems to be enough. The answer isn’t found in trying harder. It’s found in seeing how different your heavenly Father is.