In The Secrets Men Keep, Ken Druck and James Simmons reveal six major secrets men have.
Topping the list is that “men secretly yearn for their father’s love and approval.” Whether consciously or subconsciously this desire is a driving force behind many men trying to prove themselves. The authors offer this observation.
“It may surprise us to know that the most powerful common denominator influencing men’s lives today is the relationship we had with our fathers …. Of the hundreds of men I have surveyed over the years, perhaps 90 percent admitted they still had strings leading back to their fathers. In other words, they are still looking to their fathers, even though their fathers may have been dead for years, for approval, acceptance, affection, and understanding.”
Interestingly, Suzanne Fields in “Like Father, Like Daughter,” also speaks to the importance of a father’s influence in shaping the woman his daughter becomes.
As a man whose father has been deceased for over 25 years, I can relate to what the authors are saying. And as the father of an adult son and daughter, I am keenly aware of that special and unique relationship.
“Of all human relationships, the bond between father and child is one of the most powerful and complex, wrote American author and pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton. “We may look at our mothers for unconditional love. But be we men or women we often seek to validate our existence by the approval of our fathers. If our father dies or in some way is absent before we earn that approval, we live the rest of our lives feeling cheated.”
Ironically, our modern-day world discounts and even scoffs at the value of the God-given male role in the family. However, God emphasizes its importance by identifying Himself as a loving Father. Through the prophet Hosea, Jehovah speaks of His people this way: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son” (Hos. 11:1).
In this chapter, God reminds them of His love shown in the exodus out of Egypt and during the wilderness wanderings. Even though they acted like spoiled children and rebelled against Him, God’s love was demonstrated by His longsuffering, His merciful provisions, and His continued faithfulness. While there were times He applied “tough love” because of their sinfulness, God’s love was unconditional, unfailing, and unchangeable.
Ultimately, God’s love would be demonstrated in their restoration which would lead to Him sending His Son to redeem a sinful world. “Out of Egypt I called My son” was a prophetic glimpse into the coming of Christ and applied by Matthew when Jesus was taken to Egypt as a child to escape the wrath of Herod.
Would you agree that God is the perfect parent? A faithful Father? The ultimate example of kindness, compassion, and concern for His children? The absolute ideal of unconditional love?
Yet, God had children who disobeyed Him. Who ignored his impassioned pleas. Who turned to dumb idols. Who doubted His promises. Who listened to false prophets. Who followed the wicked ways of heathen nations. Who failed to reciprocate His love. Whose insolence, ignorance and indifference almost brought God to “the end of His rope.” And finally caused Him to punish them.
Considering these historical facts reminds us of these important lessons today.
1. Christians can fall away. Turn their back on God. And return to the world’s wickedness. This is not an indictment against God. Or the inadequacy of the gospel. Or a deficiency of Christianity. Or necessarily the fault of the church. Or a failure of the Shepherds. It’s simply people choosing to follow their carnal desires. And rejecting their Father.
2. God still loves us even when we’re unfaithful. His love is constant. Continual. And consistent. He’s not willing that we should perish, but wants us to repent. His love is not fickle or flighty. He loves us with a love that is beyond human comprehension. Like the bumper sticker I once saw–“God loves you whether you like it or not.
3. Even the best parents can raise children who rebel against them and reject God. Every Dad, in the quiet moments of personal introspection, knows he was not a perfect father. We all make mistakes. Fall short of God’s love. Realize we could have done things differently. Listened more intently. Watched more closely. Felt more passionately. And loved more deeply. Yet, these are not reasons to beat ourselves up and blame our failures for our children’s unfaithfulness.
How can we expect to have perfect children when we all have an imperfect love? And if God the perfect Father had imperfect children, what right do we have to expect better?
Furthermore, it’s good to remember that even in His divine love, God will still render judgment and justice on the unrighteous and ungodly. God’s longsuffering is limited. History tells us that. And the scripture promises it.
In the meantime, let’s all embrace the Father’s love. Seek to share it with others. And do our very best to emulate it in all our relationships.
Finally, regardless of whatever you’re experiencing or emotions you’re feeling, C. S. Lewis was right when wrote, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman