The question, “Who is God?” popped into my head a couple of days back. Now, I have been a Christian for almost 30 years. Regardless, I found I did not have a ready made answer for this question, a question which on the face of it seemed to warrant a ‘duh’ or ‘no brainer’ answer from someone who has been a Christian for as long as I have. I found myself stopping to ponder and mulling over the question. It was not that I did not have any potential answers. I just could not pinpoint an answer I could characterize to be uniquely my best answer.
Is God defined by the fact that He is Almighty (All Powerful), Creator, Omniscient, Omnipresent, the One in whom we live and move and have our very existence? Is it that ‘God is Love’? Is it that He is Healer, Ultimate Benefactor, or Savior? Is it that He is the source of true light, light that casts the right hue on right and wrong, on good and evil, light that enables right characterizations of strengths and weaknesses?
Today, a week since the question popped into my mind, I listened to the song by Chris Tomlin titled, “Good Good Father” and immediately I knew I had what I consider to be my uniquely best answer to the question, “Who is God?”
When a man lies on his deathbed, do his children remember him by his name or by acts of fatherhood? Do they remember him by his name or by soccer games attended together? By name, or by soccer games played that were coached by their father? By name or by acts of sacrifice so they could attend college? By name or by how he loved their mother? By name or by tales from their mother about how he spent hours rocking them to sleep late into the night, and this after long days at work? By name or by remembrances of how he stayed by their bedside when they were ill? By name, or by the realization that every child was loved the same yet uniquely with acceptance of their specific personalities, strengths, weaknesses? By name or by the love of a father?
So then “Who is God?” Is He Jehovah, or Yahweh, or the “I Am That I Am?” The Answer? God is Father, Heavenly Father. This is the reason Jesus taught His disciples to pray — “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Your Name…”
We hallow God’s name first and foremost because He is a Good, Good, Father. It is God’s Good Fatherhood which renders His Name Hallowed.
But is fatherhood not only about expressions of love, but also about teaching of discipline? While my children lived with me they knew that whenever school was in session, playing of video games strictly was off limits during school nights — Sunday through Thursday nights. Was I just being a despot? Naturally not. The discipline was for their good so they could focus on their school work, gain new knowledge in school, obtain good grades. Whenever their playroom got messy and their grandmother who was visiting would clean it up for them I would remonstrate with her to no avail as to how she was spoiling her grandchildren. But then again whoever truly appreciates disciplined fathers as much as they deserve until they get older?
The one thing that differentiates earthly fathers from a God who desires we see Him as Heavenly Father? A perfect earthly father does not exist. I believe I have been a great Dad to my children. A perfect Dad? Definitely not. By the same token there does not exist any earthly father who loves his children’s mother absolutely perfectly. This is why it never is healthy for children to assume they know their parents well enough to take sides during a divorce.
God, by definition is absolutely perfect — a Father who always gets things right at the right time, to the right degree, in the right manner. A Father who knows when to cut us slack, when to embarrass us with blessings, when to bring out the discipline stick, who knows when we need Him really close, when we need time to pull ourselves together so we again can appreciate His love, a God who never smothers, who always is at exactly the distance that best loves us.
Personally, I have arrived at the point where I never seek God to be far away from me. Whenever we desire that God keep a distance it is because we are emotional over disappointments. But then if God really is God, and if He cannot for sake of justice shield us from all challenges of life, armed with the knowledge that He is ‘Good Father’ and ‘ultimate fixer’ of challenges of life, it is lack of spiritual strength, and pull of our emotions that makes us push Him away. When we truly are spiritually strong we arrive at the realization that having a heavenly Father who truly cares for us, as close as possible is good for us.
Who is God? God is Father. But then a son or daughter can be estranged from a good, good father, or better still can enjoy His love forever. Is it not reassuring to know God Himself asserts He is characterized by His ‘good, good’ fatherhood?