It was a tender moment to witness – a little child striking out on some adventure of his own, with still-wobbly legs and timid, deliberate footsteps. So brave, so determined, until suddenly he turns back to look for the familiar, just to make sure the reassuring presence is still there. Pausing, nearly dangling, he feels renewed confidence as Daddy moves into the scene.
Then comes the reaching for a tight grip of a little hand placed in the strong, comfortable palm of the father’s. At last the child feels the ground under him, and now the little adventurer is exuding stability, trust, such confidence in his adeptness, so pleased with himself, all because of the reliable, the familiar, and the refuge of his dad with him. We smile and understand.
This portrayal of fatherhood meshes with cultures worldwide and speaks to a basic yearning in each of us to feel the inexpressible comfort and love of a protecting father.
In honoring fathers and fatherhood by celebrating the influence of fathers and father figures in our lives, there are so many expressions of love and joy, sharing and remembrances. We rejoice for those who cherish such deserving sentiments. There are many, however, who may never know the privilege of being a father. Still others retain sadness and strife in not having their fathers nearby or feel tainted by the betrayals of abuse, disappointment, or duplicity by their fathers. No honor, no celebration.
How is it possible for everyone to find, like the little child grasping the security of his hand, the comfort and love of a protecting father? The Bible reveals many examples and assurances. I marvel at the example of Jesus (see Matthew 1:18-25, 13:55; Mark 6:3). I marvel at the fatherly role Joseph played in Jesus’ life. He expressed remarkable courage in protecting Mary, sheltering the virgin birth, and choosing not to expose her publicly in pregnancy. Without hesitation, he carried out his engagement with her and made her his wife. He stayed with Mary in the safety of Bethlehem for the child’s birth, conducted the escape to Egypt to avoid the terror of Herod’s murderous dictates, and in Jesus’ growing years, trained him to be his apprentice in the trade of carpentry.
Joseph was a noble and honorable father. Jesus was a faithful son. Yet Jesus disclosed something beyond the three-dimensional sense of self and his origin. His spiritual sense of identity as the Son of God, his Christ nature, turned him to know God as his loving Father. Jesus recognized man as belonging to God, and his exalted understanding of this truth enabled him to acknowledge his relationship as the Son, ever one with the Father (see John 10:30).
Christian Science teaches that everyone can learn of his or her distinct, higher relationship to God, the Father, as illustrated by the prophets and taught by Jesus. He prayed, “Our Father ...” indicating his awareness that you and I can turn to our spiritual Father, God, right now to learn about divine Love embracing and meeting our human need.
A spiritual recognition of God as divine Love allows us to consider our unique place as God’s image and likeness, sustained and held in His care, motivated by Him and trustingly responsive to His goodness. God’s solicitude for His children does not fluctuate. Its influence is available right now, and it is our divine right to feel and know this.
The Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, states, “Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation” (p. 332). Today we can mentally put our hand in God’s. Express the qualities that exemplify “God with us” – those of compassion, patience, lovingkindness, forgiveness, to name a few. They become like a balm in our hand, softening and molding our thought and experience into a closer approximation of the divine; and we, too, will feel the powerful influence of our universal Father, God.
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