Come Home to the Father

The absentee father. Today in America the absentee father is becoming more and more common. He is the one who is no longer physically present in the home due to death, divorce or abandonment.

Fifty percent of children in America wake up each morning with someone other than their natural birth father in the home. And too often this father figure does not have a strong interest in meeting their emotional needs. This is not true in every case, of course; there are godly stepfathers who love their stepchildren as if they were their own, but that is a rare occurrence.

Children who have had an absentee father may face abandonment issues, and it may be very difficult for them to relate to God. Even if they do foster a relationship with Him, there may be a sense of fear that at some point, He will not be there for them. These children need an experiential revelation of God's presence and unconditional love in their lives.

The authoritarian father. Authoritarian fathers are those fathers who are more interested in the love of law than in the law of love. They go beyond the performance-oriented fathers and sternly demand immediate, unquestioned obedience from their children. They foster no positive emotional relationship between themselves and their children; rather, they use intimidation and fear to control them.

These fathers are usually very selfish; the entire life of the family revolves around them and their needs. They do not recognize the unique individuality of each child but see the children as a means to getting their own needs met.

Children raised in such homes will see God as the Great Cop in the sky, a harsh authoritarian figure to be feared and obeyed rather than a loving Father to be enjoyed and cherished. They strive so hard to meet His requirements that they feel more like servants than children whom the Father loves.

The abusive father. Verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse is never an acceptable form of behavior for a father to practice. Tragically, however, all these types of abuse are becoming common in families throughout the United States. If you have been abused in any of these ways, you may need more than counseling or psychological therapy to be free from the deep pain and anger; you may need deep healing that can come only as the Holy Spirit pours the love of God into your heart (see Rom. 5:5).

Abuse, especially sexual abuse, creates one of the deepest wounds a child can ever experience, for it results in tremendous hidden pain. It violates the trust the child has placed in authority and can affect all his relationships for the rest of his life.

Sexual abuse leaves children consumed with hidden fears and a deep distrust of God, pastors, other authority figures and other men. It creates feelings of guilt and a profound sense of shame and unworthiness.

It can leave children feeling as if they did something to deserve to be treated so badly. And underneath it all, there is tremendous repressed anger, much of it focused on God for allowing the abuse to occur.

No matter what type of father you had as a child, you don't have to remain wounded, carrying the pain from father issues in your heart. You can forgive your father for each area in which he failed to represent the father-heart of God, and you can release the wounds caused by him to the One who can heal them. You can get to know your heavenly Father through Jesus, who gave His life for us and shows us what His Father is like.

Jesus is always reaching out to pour His love upon us. Allow that perfect love to comfort you as you listen to the words your Father speaks to you, His beloved son or daughter: "My child, I want to rejoice over you with singing. I want to quiet you in My love.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love, and I am drawing you with lovingkindness. I will not leave you as an orphan, but I will come to you and bless you as My child" (see Zeph. 3:17; Jer. 31:3; John 14:18,21).

Whatever needs you have--physical, spiritual or emotional--your heavenly Father can fill them as no earthly father ever could. Come home to Him, and give Him the opportunity to show you how loving, dependable and constant He is.

Jack Frost and his wife, Trisha, direct Shiloh Place Ministries in Conway, S.C. Jack's new book from Charisma House, Experiencing the Father's Embrace, releases this month.

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