In my community in West Africa, a father’s presence in the home is considered indispensable. His absence, perhaps as a result of death, a divorce in the family, or indifference toward his child, is seen as the major cause of delinquency and failure among children. Without a father’s support and guidance, the child is liable to lose his way.
My dad was an orphan at birth. His childhood was difficult. But he later embraced Christianity, and, with every problem, he faithfully turned to God in prayer. Despite his difficult childhood, he found the spiritual strength to keep on loving his kids, showing them that spirituality is based on love. This gave me strong roots in learning to love God.
When I began to study Christian Science as a grown man, I learned that our true Father is God, the Father of the universe, the only creator of man (man and woman). I see this fundamental truth as the solution to the problem of absentee fathers, elevating mankind to the spiritual understanding that each one of us is being continuously parented by God, Spirit, who loves us, sustains us, keeps us safe, and causes us to be happy and whole, as His image and likeness.
The story of Joseph, in the Bible, is also a wonderful illustration of God’s care. Envied and sold by his older brothers to strangers, who brought him to a country far from his parents, Joseph stayed close to God and listened for His guidance. Throughout his many challenges, including an unjust imprisonment, God showed him the way, giving him the inspiration and wisdom that would ensure his progress and success.
Eventually he became second in command of the Egyptian kingdom, one of the most important nations at that time. He embodied courage, obedience, honesty, chastity, wisdom, and love—qualities that give evidence of our true spiritual goodness as God’s children, reflecting the nature of our heavenly Father.
Our Master, Christ Jesus, recognized that his ability to know and do all that he did came from the Father. Jesus had never been to school, but he knew the Scriptures and at a young age was once found in the temple, listening to the doctors of the law, asking them questions and giving answers that amazed them.
When the Jews wondered, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” he explained, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (John 7:15, 16). And on another occasion, after they’d accused him of healing on the Sabbath day, he told them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19).
Jesus’ declaration that the Father was his real source of intelligence demonstrates that God expresses in His children His infinite nature and capacities. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures it is written, “God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 258).
So, regardless of our situation—orphaned, abandoned, or without the human parenting we desire—God remains our Father from whom we are given unlimited opportunities for development and fulfillment. We can depend on Him to guide us, whatever our age or culture. His wisdom and support are impartial and ongoing, because He is infinite and ever-present Love.
Does this mean that a father’s presence in the family is unimportant, or that he can abdicate his responsibilities as a parent? Not at all. In her chapter on marriage in Science and Health Mrs. Eddy wrote: “Is not the propagation of the human species a greater responsibility, a more solemn charge, than the culture of your garden or the raising of stock to increase your flocks and herds? Nothing unworthy of perpetuity should be transmitted to children” (p. 61).
As a father, I believe our greatest responsibility to our children is to understand that God is our only Father, and to help them see this, too, and to love them as the Father loves them, by seeing their true spiritual perfection. The more we do this, the more our children will blossom. And through prayer those without a father will find themselves taken under God’s wing in surprising and precious ways. Moreover, we will be contributing to the improvement of society and reinforcing love, peace, and harmony in the world.
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