Despite having five kids of my own, there are days I don’t do well being a son. The dad part I seem to have down. Love them, care for them, deliver timely Dad jokes. That I can do and I play to my strengths. Yet, the inverse part about being a son sometimes leaves me scratching my head.
Like many, my parents divorced when I was young. My dad was a good man, a hard worker. He loves me and is proud of me. These are all things I cognitively know and things he has expressed. Yet, somewhere in the disconnect of family came the unplugging of trust in my father. (Please understand that I love my dad and this is not a slam on him.) Somehow, some way, I found a struggle in my sonship. I found difficulty in dependency on the man that once lived in my home and now lived somewhere else. I realize this is a conversation for my therapist, one we have had.
Being a Son with the Heavenly Father
My point in all this family revelation of hurt is simply to say it played a role not just in how I approached my earthly father, but the lens in which I saw my heavenly father. This is not just for dudes of divorce, it is something that as guys, I think we have a struggle with.
Jesus said this:
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11 NIV)
Jesus frames our capacity to ask from the perspective of fathers to present a picture of our heavenly Father who is more than willing to give good gifts. Yet, on the opposite perspective is the son. Sons with broken trust find it hard to even ask. Sons with broken hearts find it hard to believe the bread is an option. Sons with hurt hearts often feel the fear of coming to their dads for what they need. So they never ask. It makes me wonder how many unreceived blessings and unanswered prayers I have had because I did not ask?
Our self-reliant, independent, pull ourselves up by our boot-straps manly man approach to life in the Spirit can become a barrier in becoming a son who without fear can come before his father for his needs and the needs of others. We have to learn to be sons. We have to learn to have a dependence on the one who is willing to give bread not stones, who will give fish and not snakes. It is a reframing of the posture of our hearts to say “the Father wants to give good things to me and he wants me to ask.”
It is only when we believe that God is good and wants to give good gifts that we find the trust enough to ask.
As a dad, this is easy to see. I want to give my kids what they need. I want to rush to them in their moments of crisis and in need of care. I want to provide for them. If that is, as an earthly father what my desire is, why would I not believe that my heavenly Father wants to do the same for me, his son. For some of us, sonship is a learned behavior. It is a lesson in trust. It is a reminder to ourselves that the Father loves us and wants good for us. The Father is waiting for us to ask.
For those of us that it is not easy being a son, it is a lesson worth learning.
Jeff Pitts is a church planter in Cleveland, TN. He loves his family, coffee, and NEEDTOBREATHE.