Father

With it being close to Father’s Day, it’s important to consider the role that God holds in our lives as Father. I realize how difficult and even painful that might be for others, especially those who have grown up in homes without stable or loving fathers. As one who has grown up with a loving father, addressing God as Father is easy. My father, the one given to me by God to represent who He is as a Father, namely a protector, a provider, and one who loves, has embodied that in my life.

Fathers are to be protectors. They help us learn how to walk and ride our bikes, picking us up again when we fall. They keep us safe and promise protection. They shelter us and lock the doors to keep intruders and thieves from entering the house to hurt us. When placed in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation, they’re often the first ones we call because they make us feel safe. 

As a protector, God tells us that He keeps us safe. In Psalm 91:4, He promises shelter under His figurative wings. All our lives, we’re taught in catechism and at school about the preservation of the saints. But, God does not preserve through an impersonal act. His providence is the hand of a loving Father, holding and sustaining. His hand holds us and guides us, like a father guiding a small child, helping him or her stay upright while learning how to walk.

Secondly, God depicts fathers as providers. 1 Timothy 5:8 states, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Fathers are to be providers for others, especially their own families. He works to support his family and put food on the table. He keeps the roof over their head. Not only is he a provider physically, but he is also a provider in his example. He pays the church budget, the school tuition, and provides for the poor. When his children see him, they not only know that they are cared for, but they also have an example in their lives of how they are to behave in love towards others. When he falls short, he’s not afraid to ask for help, knowing that God provides in times of wealth and times of famine.

Ultimately, God the Father is the provider. Though fathers work to put food on the table, it is God who provides them with a job. It is God who uses that means to provide daily bread. In a time of uncertainty, where more Americans are filing for unemployment each day, jobs are no longer an overlooked part of life, but a privilege. God the Father provides so much more than daily bread and a roof over our heads. Where earthly fathers make many sacrifices to provide for their children, God the Father made the largest sacrifice possible for His children: His Son. In order to supply our provision of salvation, God the Father sent His Son to die on the cross, to endure His wrath on our behalf. Because of His sacrifice, God the Father provides His children with eternal life. He’s built us a home more glorious than anything we can possess on this earth.

Finally, a father is one who loves. He leads his family, bringing them to church on Sunday (or making sure they all attend worship from home given the current circumstances). He leads spiritually in the home. He’s physically present in the lives of his children, co-parenting with his wife, attending the concerts, conferences, games, and graduations. He disciplines out of love when his children fall into sin. Though he may not be as openly affectionate as his wife, his children know that he loves them.

God the Father is more than just one who loves. He is love. 1 John 4:8 says, “He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.” Love is wholly embodied in who God is. Where earthly fathers make mistakes and fall into sin, disciplining not in love but anger, God always loves. He is without sin and perfectly just. Although we deserved hell and eternal damnation for our sins, God in love chose us and sent His Son to die for us. In love, He provides us with eternal life.

To fathers: you don’t represent yourself in the eyes of your children. You are a representative of God the Father Himself. When they pray “Our Father which art in heaven,” their picture of fatherhood is you. Let your actions reflect Him, for their sake.

To all the children and adults who struggle to call God your father because of painful experiences with your own fathers, my heart goes out to you. I know the privilege I have in belonging to a stable, loving family. I hope one day you find healing in Christ. God the Father is not like your father. He is Abba, intimate, loving, and close. He loves you, and He sees your hurt. Find fatherly love in Him.

 

Alison VanBaren

Grace

Oh let me never be afraid of life,

To make me strive to better know Thy love,

That love will never let me go. Life’s strife

I know so very well, but I must leave

My past behind and let my soul to rest.

To ease my pain and suffering. I try,

I try, this world is not enough. I’m blest

To know my God, my Lord, to Thee I cry,

So let me put my sins of youth behind.

And let me trust and know Thy blessings, Lord,

To keep me whole, so right, so true, so kind.

I thank Thee Lord, forgive my sins didst Thou.

So make me run away from what hast been,

And keep me sure and strong, to fight my sin.

 

 

 

Bryanna VanBaren

Christian History

“There is no reason that it had to happen this way.” I heard this quote or something very similar in many of my history classes. If no one explicitly said this, then almost invariably throughout the semester the discussion of one topic or another would lead back to the question about why things happened the way they did, and the claim that there really was no underlying reason that events unfolded as they did. Honestly, I sat in many classes, heard this discussion, and didn’t give it a second thought. Until one professor claimed that “nothing had to happen the way it did, nothing was ordained.” Then I realized exactly what was behind this idea and what was being pushed by most historians. Current day history looks at history merely as it relates to man, his actions, his decisions, etc. Every history class I’ve been in post high school approached history as completely man centered. Instead of looking up, we spent our time looking around us; we were denying God’s Providence and His eternal will.

True history, the history only studied by Christians, and not what you get in the majority of college classrooms, looks at history as the unfolding of God’s plan. Everything did in fact have to happen in a certain manner. Not only that, but the Christian can know that it happened one way or another for his or her advantage. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Further comfort comes from the fact that the one executing this will is Christ. Revelation 5 speaks of the book of God’s plan and the only one worthy in heaven or on earth to open the book was the Lamb. God is in control of all things. Only the Christian though, through the eyes of faith, will recognize that throughout history.

Even more, if we look at history without God in the picture we miss the most important history there is: the history of the Church. All other areas in some way branch off and are centered upon the history of the Church. The travels of Columbus, for example, have to be seen as God opening up whole new continents for the Gospel to spread to. All of history reveals God’s providential caring and planning for his Church throughout the ages.

Remember this as many of us sit in current or future classrooms and learn about all the different areas of history. One of the most influential early scholars in the field of history, Leopold von Rancke (1795-1886), said that he always looked for the “holy hieroglyph” in history. By this he meant that he was always looking for the hidden hand of God behind every event in history. Let us follow that example.

 

Arend Haveman