Do you image PAPA God in your own image? Or are you able to image Him as He is?
Today’s Sunday Series post was prompted by a Facebook conversation in which I was involved this past week. The comment that got my creative spiritual juices flowing stated that we image PAPA from our human perspective. And that somehow that’s not appropriate – or “right”. So I started thinking about it. And about how I image Him.
A number of years ago, I was involved with a home for troubled young women. One of our weekly sessions was Bible study and associated discussion. This particular evening, I was sharing about a “loving God”. Suddenly one of the girls shouted. . .
“How can I imagine a loving heavenly father when I didn’t have a loving earthly one!”
Tearfully she recounted how her father beat and sexually molested her from a young age until she ran away; got into trouble and ended up in our program. Her anger grew with each word and the tears became sobs of deep hurt and rejection by the very person she should have been able to trust as a young girl!
I recall this incident because it’s the one thing that comes to mind when the question of how we as humans image the Creator of the Universe. God the Father. My PAPA!
So here’s a few of my thoughts on the matter:
♦ I am finite – He is infinite! That makes a great deal of difference in how I can picture Him in my mind – let alone relate to Him as PAPA God!
♦ I am human – He is Divine! That too makes a difference in how I imagine Him to be. I have little to no frame of reference – or do I?
♦ I am of the earth – He is Spirit! That which is of earth is available to us humans because we are of the same “essence”. But Spirit is spirit and as such unseen by our human minds and unknown to us in the same sense as that which is of earth.
I mention “frame of reference” in point 2 and question whether we have one or not. The truth is – we do.
Throughout Scripture, there are analogies to Who He Is that we can image in our minds. Bridegroom, Master, Burning Bush, Vine Dresser and many more. But the one that is nearest to us is that of “father”. So I ask myself, for what reason might my Heavenly PAPA refer to Himself as “Father”. Does it relate only to gender?
I believe PAPA refers to Himself throughout Scripture as “Father” because He expects each of us to have a loving earthly father who comes as near an image as we humans can conjure up.
Wow, that’s quite a burden for any man-father to live up to! To be so nearly like the character of the Creator of the universe as to be the perfect human model to whom we can all look for a glimpse of our Heavenly PAPA!
But I believe that is what PAPA intended. That our earthly dads would be His human models so each of us could easily identify with a “loving father” we can’t see. But that’s a very tall order! And most earthly dad’s fall short – even the best of them! Simply because no human – male or female, can be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect!
Finally, there is simply no way we as women, (men as well), can have an authentic image in our human minds of PAPA God, Who is spirit. St. Paul says, “now we see in a mirror dimly; but then we shall see face to face.” In this case, the “dim mirror” is our finite human mind which can only create an image of the Father from our weak human limitations.
But if we have or have had an earthly dad that, on rare occasions, came as close to being perfect in character, attitude, behaviors and all other positive attributes we would ascribe to PAPA – then we have a fleeting glimpse of PAPA “face to face”.
What of those who’ve not had such a privilege? Those whose earthly dad’s were anything but perfect on even the rarest of occasions? How then can they possibly identify with a “loving Heavenly Father” who loves them unconditionally?
That’s the challenge many women of faith are called to. A passion to assist in the healing process for women – young and old, who have no earthly frame of reference.
As for the young woman in my personal story above; I don’t know if she was able to find healing in the midst of so much pain, anger and bitterness. For one morning, she was gone. Packed her bag of meager belongings and went out to the street from whence she had come. We could never locate her again. But my prayer remains that someone came into her life who loves her unconditionally and her image of PAPA is as true to reality as it can be for a human being.
In closing, fret not if someone sarcastically says that you make God in your own image. Just smile and be glad you have or had a positive frame of reference from which you could do so. Further know that is all we have to work with – our finite human minds.
And know that while you see now through a clouded mirror – one day you shall see face to face!
Linda S. Fitzgerald, Visionary Partner & CEO
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://affiliatedwomeninternational.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/05/linda-google-NB-profile-pic.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]I have a ‘fiery’ passion to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]