It’s a fact that it will be a challenge because a man who has never had the privilege of feeling loved by his physical father will not have emotional categories to feel loved by his Spiritual Father.
Mmmm…what does it feel like to be loved well by an earthly father? I don’t know really, and many of you don’t either. But, by God’s grace I have been able to love my sons (and daughter) pretty well…and when I sit back and think about it…
I suggest that when a boy is loved well by his earthly father or father role model, he…
1. Feels safe and secure.
Sure, the boy knows his dad’s not perfect, but his dad is there most of the time, and most of the time he’s really engaged in his son’s life. The dad is this big lion who nuzzles his cub and leads it and carries it around…sometimes the lion king roars at his cubs, but the roars are usually warnings and discipline which doesn’t strike out of anger, but out of deep love, and cubs know it. Predictability is a strong man’s forte. It breeds safety and security in the young man’s heart, making it strong.
2. Feels forgiven when he messes up.
Boys mess up, but a father who loves well doesn’t expect his little son to have the strength or the knowledge of a mature man. Because the grown lion knows the cub is a cub, when he messes up he forgives. And the cub knows it, and feels forgiven because this big old hairy arm yanks him up and pulls him close and hugs the breath out of the little guy while saying, “Son I love you! You are a gift! I forgive you and you’ll learn from this! There isn’t a more happy dad than me on this planet!” A son who is quickly forgiven is free to risk, and to forgive those who need it from him. (Like his future wife.)
3. Is free to be unique.
A dad who loves really well knows every child is unique and looks for those temperamental differences that make kids different…and he celebrates them. While the father has aspirations for his kids, he’s looking at what the Lord put into his son, not what he wants to cram into him. A dad who loves well believes that God knows best what his son should be like, and rejoices even with a son who is totally unlike him.
4. Develops character.
The boy loved well by his dad is told what a man is and what a man is not. The standards come from the Bible, not just from culture; especially not from our present American culture. Character of a Godly sort is developed in this kind of a boy, because he sees it in his dad, who is an imperfect representative of God.
So maybe you haven’t been loved like that by an earthly father. Tons of us guys haven’t. Would have been good to have felt secure, forgiven, unique, filled with character and manly…worthwhile… with an earthly father, right?
Now realize this: That even if you had a great dad, your Heavenly Father is far superior and loves way better than what I described above. Put yourself in the place of a boy well loved. Go back a bit and savor it for a minute. And then realize that from eternity past, your Father with a capital F along with the Lion of Judah kept you secure; because of the Lion you’re forgiven, and you are released to be the unique man you were inteded to be.
Once you get the sense of what being well loved looks like and feels like, then you can begin to see that the Father far exceeds even what you can imagine. No earthly father even approximates the deep perfection of our Heavenly Father. Not only is God not mad at you, He’s wild about you and the Cross proves it! I’m right and you know it.
From these humble and simple thoughts, a man can begin to become a loved son.
Ultimately, though, being loved is a supernatural transaction:
Galatians 4:6-7 (ESV)
6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
This is how we become loved sons who, because they are sons, can become men.
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