So, he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20 NIV
Remember the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes?” In one comic, Calvin accosts his father: “Your new polls are in, Dad. A vast majority of household 6 year-olds say you’re not living up to their expectations of fatherhood.” “What were their expectations?” inquires his father. “That you’d be more like an automatic teller machine.”
That is the problem with being a father. Fathers may not live up to what is expected of them. We all have had different experiences with fathers, either our own fathers or our experience as a father. Some of you like me have been blessed to have wonderful fathers. Some have had and still have difficult, painful relationships with their fathers. For some, you may not have grown up with a father in your household, or you may have had a father figure in your life, someone other than a biological father.
Some of you who are fathers have found it to be a blessing, while others have found it to be a challenge. Or both. Some of you fathers have lost children for which you still have a hole in your life. Yet isn’t it significant that a very special relationship in the Bible and the most endearing relationship of all eternity was and is the relationship between a special Father and his Son – between God the Father and his Beloved son, Jesus. And even if our own experiences with our fathers or your experiences as being a father leave much to be desired, God gives fatherhood a sacred value. It is to be a blessed relationship and that we are to honor the position of fatherhood, regardless of the person behind it.
We truly see the ideal of the worth of fatherhood in the story of the Prodigal Son. In the parable we are all the prodigal son, ones who have strayed, who have gone down the wrong path at times in our lives. And in the parable God is the Loving Father, not one who acts with anger, malice, or vindictiveness when his son strays. But a father who is waiting with arms open for the lost son to come home. A father for whom the son knows that even though he has strayed and hurt his father, that he is always approachable, that he is always available and always willing to lend a caring heart.
That is the ideal that God intended for fathers. And this is the father that God is. God made us so that we have this innate desire to be loved. And God is always willing to give us his love. God is a father who said to his son Jesus, even before he had made the first step into his ministry, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ God the father told His Son, “Son I’m already proud of you.”