Recently, on Instagram, there was an advertisement for a "Kangaroo Pocket T-shirt." The pocket in the front of the shirt is meant to hold a 7 to 15-pound baby. He or she goes in feet first and can lay its head on dad to be close to him. Of course, it is being advertised just in time for Father's Day. I am reminded of how important it is for a dad to be in touch with his child.
How many of us grew up with a father who was distant and unable to give us affection or tell us, "I am proud of you," or "I love you"? My guess is that this is normal for many. Slowly, the enemy of our souls has stolen the father identity from men. In doing so, he has made us doubt God's identity as our father and ours as His children, made in His image. It is my opinion that of all the names God has, Father is the most important. This was demonstrated by Jesus who taught His disciples to pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name." (Matthew 6:9) In addition, Jesus made His relationship as a Son to Father God known to all He spoke to.
As I think about the T-shirt that is being marketed and picture of the baby tucked inside, close to his father's heart, I am reminded that this is the way Father God wants us to be with Him. He is always available and close by. In Jeremiah 33:3 He extends an invitation to His children: "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." The Psalmist knew how important he was to God and was amazed by it. "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-5) Yes, Father God is mindful of us and desires relationship with us!
Placed within each one of us is a deep desire to be in relationship with God. His qualities are demonstrated by the father in the story of the prodigal son. The youngest of two sons insulted his father by requesting that he be given his share of the family estate immediately. He left with his fortune and proceeded to squander it in wild living. In dire straits, he took a job feeding pigs, which would not be acceptable in the Jewish culture. Eventually, he came to his senses and returned to his father, ready to acknowledge his sin and ask for a position of slave in his father's house so that he could be fed.
In this part of the story, Jesus uses this father's behavior as an example of the way Father God treats His children. This father would not be influenced by the culture of the day and kept a vigil for his son. The people of his town would have been ready to punish and banish the son from his family and community. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) However, this dad spots his son in the distance and lifts his robe to run toward him even though Middle Eastern men do not run in public or expose their legs. He was more interested in saving his son than preserving his dignity in front of the town people. (Luke 15)
The father in this story extended grace to his son and celebrated his return with a party. Our Father in heaven loves us even when we may be distant from Him. His arms are always open and ready to welcome us. He loves to pour His affections on us and to hold us tightly just like the baby in the "Kangaroo Pocket T-shirt." Why not ask Father God for the grace to see yourself as His child and for the revelation of His fatherly heart? He longs to embrace us so that He can impart His love to us.
Joan E. Mathias