I hear a lot of debate about human origins. Some believe in six literal days of creation. Some accept an evolutionary process. And some say we are a plantation of an intergalactic species of aliens... But here's what I accept: "You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hands" [Isaiah 64:8].
The word "father" is a loaded word. It's loaded because each of our own personal experiences with father shape our understanding of the word. When I address God, I refer to him as "Father", both because it is a term of relationship expressed throughout scripture and also because it comes from my own personal experience with God growing up in a home without a father present.
On Sunday, we read several verses together that reflect the fatherhood of God. Here are a few examples:
"The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of God Almighty gives me life" [Job 33:4]. We see that God is a giver; he gives life and all that sustains it.
"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing" [Psalm 68:5-6]. God is not content with our isolation and abandonment.
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" [Matthew 6:8]. God is aware of us, knows us, and values us highly!
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God" [1 John 3:1]. He pursues us, adopts us, brings us into the family, and spoils us with love in a way that doesn't make us rotten!
I love telling the story about my dad taking me ice fishing. When he moved back to Indiana, he would occasionally drop by my house very early on a winter's Saturday morning to wake me up and take me ice fishing. He'd holler in the door, "Get out of bed. Let's go!" and I'd drag my tired, hungry carcass out of the warm bed and head to the lake where I'd sit on ice for hours hovered over a hole hoping I wouldn't catch a fish because I didn't want to take my gloves off. I don't even like fish! He would sit about 10 yards away fishing another hole, so there weren't many conversations that took place. I'd just look at him from a distance, hoping there would be the reward of a donut after I served my time.
For some, that's how they view God: distant with their relationship on ice while hoping for a little reward after serving their time.
My dad and I later joked about my discomfort with those ice fishing trips, and now they are some of my best memories with him. How much more is our Father in heaven -- the One who created us, loves us, and sustains us -- trying to reach out to us in order to bring us back into community? God the Father is the giver of life, a defender of the fatherless, the author of life & love, who is working to bring us home.
He's not as inaccessible as we may think.