I have just watched a film about the relationship between A.A.Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh stories, and his son, Christopher Robin. I had no idea how sad Christopher Milne’s life was: his parents disappointed in him from the beginning because they had ‘hoped for a Rosemary’ and dressing him in girlish smocks.
Then when his father wrote his famous books, and Christopher became the centre of even more public acclaim than his Dad, because he was ‘the real-life Christopher Robin’, he was bullied at school and his parents’ disappointment swung to exploitation, to the extent that Christopher later wrote, “It seemed to me, almost, that my father had got to where he was by climbing upon my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and had left me with nothing but the empty fame of being his son.”
His father wasn’t deliberately cruel. He was damaged himself through being shell-shocked in the First World War. But what a sad, sad story. And though none of us have had the exact same experiences as Christopher Milne, some will identify with aspects of his life.
Today, being Father’s Day in the UK, many will be finding creative ways to connect with their Dads this year (with social distancing still in place), most at the very least will be remembering their Dads. Wherever you are in the world, perhaps today is a good day to reflect on your earthly fathering, remembering too that through Jesus we have a heavenly Father. And whether the memories we recall to mind are joyful, bringing a smile to our face, or difficult and painful, bringing tears to our eyes, or perhaps for some, even abusive, evoking a sense of injustice and anger, we don’t have to be resigned to our past. Our heavenly Father longs for us to draw close and share everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, with Him, and to receive the soothing balm of His comfort in the sore places, and as our reading today says, to allow Him to calm our fears, to truly know His Fathering.
Some time ago I was at the opticians and got chatting with the guy dispensing my glasses. He told me about his young son, who suffers with mental health issues. I could see the sadness in his eyes, but then he started to talk about taking him to football matches, and his whole face lit up as he shared about how they eagerly look forward to going to every home match and then have such fun enjoying it together. Then he said, “To be honest, I think he just likes it because I do.”
Isn’t that the heart of our heavenly Father? We all have difficulties and issues in our lives. In His eyes we’re all ‘disabled’ to one degree or another, and He’s sad when we struggle in life.
But He doesn’t define us by our wounds, weaknesses and struggles. He sees beyond all that. You and I are simply His child. And as our verse for today reminds us, He delights in you, He delights in me. He delights when we spend time with Him, pouring our hearts out to Him and listening as He shares His with us.
That’s when we really get to know what He likes. And the more we do that, the more we begin to like what He likes too, and just like the optician’s little boy, we want to join in with what our Heavenly Dad is doing, which not only gives us joy but delights Him too.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I want to spend time with You today, sharing my memories and responses to my earthly fathering. (Perhaps spend a few moments reflecting and thanking Father God for those times when your earthly father reflected back to you something of His character and nature … and share with Him anything that was difficult, painful or that makes you feel sad or angry ... You may need to ask Him to help you forgive your earthly father) Father in Heaven, thank You that I am Your child, and You love me, You delight in me and You’re here with me right now. Please help me to hear Your voice of tenderness and comfort now. (Spend a few moments allowing Him to speak into your heart). Thank You, Father, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.