Getting to know our heavenly Father

We usually think of a father in the role of protector, counselor, provider; as someone who cares about the progress of his children and tenderly oversees it; as a disciplinarian when needed, and a friend to talk with. We can never really be separated from these qualities, even if we're without a human father. That's because they're God-derived, and our heavenly Father, God, is omnipresent. To begin to grasp this truth can be a practical help, whatever our situation.

For example, after my parents were divorced and my father had been remarried for some time, it seemed as though he wanted everything pertaining to his prior marriage, including his children, put behind him. Although he and I lived in the same town, we rarely saw each other. My efforts to call him met an instant rebuff.

In turning to God in prayer about this situation, I recalled Jesus' admonition, ''Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.'' n1 I decided to use the time I would otherwise have spent in the company of my father in getting to know my divine Father better. I felt that this situation was compelling me to go higher, to acknowledge my actual, spiritual nature and source, and to realize that true individuality is not fathered in matter but rather in the one divine Spirit. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''God is our Father and our Mother, our Minister and the great Physician: He is man's only real relative on earth and in heaven.'' n2

n1 Matthew 23.9.

n2 Miscellaneous Writings, pg. 151.

Rather than merely settling for a harmonious, mortal sense of parenthood, however desirous that might be, I was engaged in building an eternal sense of relationship to my creator and in translating my concept of fatherhood into a spiritual one. I also endeavored to magnify, and to express more gratitude for, all the good qualities that had previously been expressed by my father. After all, God is both the source and the continuity of these qualities, so they aren't dependent upon one particular person for their expression.

I decided to make a study of the Gospels again, and this time to underline each reference, made by Jesus, to God as ''Father.'' As I did this, it seemed to me that his whole ministry related individuals to their heavenly Father, showed them their divine source. I discovered many facets of God as Father and recognized that He is always with me, and with everyone. His eternal care for His beloved children is beautifully expressed in this passage from Isaiah: ''And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear''; n3 and by Jesus when he said before raising Lazarus: ''Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always.'' n4

n3 Isaiah 65:24.

n4 John 11:41, 42.

As a result of this study, I not only achieved a much closer sense of my relationship to my heavenly Father, but my relationship with my human father was also restored.

How wonderful it is that each of us has this same caring, approving, loving, infinitely tender divine Father! And we can feel His presence, perceive His wise , unerring direction, in the quietness of prayer. In the truest sense, not one of us is without the fathering we need. DAILY BIBLE VERSE When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, Pray tothy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:6

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