This is the sixth in a series on My Faith Journey, and #26 in the series Lessons from My Father.
One image of God I had growing up was to understand God as a loving and forgiving Father.
It was easier for me to imagine God this way because I had a father with those characteristics in my life. My father paid attention to me, told me regularly that he loved me, and constantly showed up when I needed him most. It would only be later in my life that I would realize that many people did not have this kind of relationship with their father.
Lewis Marler made it easier for me to understand God by the way he loved me, forgave me, disciplined me, and guided me.
Here’s a story to illustrate.
I was about seven years old and I knew I was in trouble one day because my mother said, “Wait until your father gets home,” which was not a good thing. It wasn’t long before I heard her giving him the scoop after he got home from work. He came into my room and asked me if it was true what I had done. I nodded yes as I sniffled.
And then he spanked me with his hand. In the 60’s, spanking a child was a normal thing. He connected two or three times as I jumped around and cried like crazy. He instructed me to stay in my room until I could come out and apologize for what I had done.
A few minutes later, I walked into the den and before I could get the words out of my mouth he asked me to come stand beside him. He said, “Malcolm, what do you have to say?” I squeaked, “I’m sorry.”
“Then I forgive you,” he responded warmly.
He drew me close to him with a hug and said, “I want you to know that I am sorry for spanking you today.”
I looked at him surprised and he added, “I had a hard day at work today and I think I was more frustrated with work than I was angry with you. I think I punished you more than you deserved. I am sorry. Sometimes I make mistakes too. Will you forgive me?” I nodded yes and hugged him tighter.
And that was one of the days I learned about forgiveness in my faith journey. If my parent could ask me for forgiveness, I could do the same. He modeled forgiveness, offering and asking. A loving relationship was the result.
So I ask you my reader and friend. What kind of images did you have of God growing up? I’d love to hear in the comments section below.