This past Sunday was Father's Day. Often a "Father's Day" sermon consists of one of two messages (sometimes both).
1) "you suck, get in the game" - a message of how important fathers are; meant to motivate you because you aren't doing it good enough.
2) "let me tell you how to do it right, because you suck" - a message with the 5 skills, or 3 attributes of a good father.
I find it imperative to quickly note that I have failed at being the perfect father, I will fail at doing it today and tomorrow too. I used to try for that perfection - now, if I have my wits, I don't try. Not that I don't do the "good dad" things, I just don't try to measure up to that perfection. Trying to measure up to an impossible standard is a formula for failure and guilt. I am still getting my head around not trying (in pride) to establish things on my own strength and then failing, rather than completely yielding to God. Motivated by joyful obedience rather than rules.
Sunday was a different "Father's Day" sermon. Our pastor shared from his life about his grandfather's chair and the joy of being gathered around it. It was simple reflections on a good father. It then segued to "if you had a good father or not, you have a great heavenly father". This got me dwelling on two things. Rather than dwelling it was more that it fueled one fire and started another blaze altogether.
Stories connect. Generally stories work by either relating to you somehow, or expressing some truth that is slippery to get exact words around. "The kingdom of heaven is like.....". The nature of truth is that it rings something within us, so in a sense truth works in the same way; it relates.
I hear (and have myself) people who struggle with "sharing their faith" because they do not have the perfect words, or don't feel knowledgeable enough. The simplest solution - instead of formulae or methods - is to simply share your faith. What has God done for you? What difference has Jesus made to you (in you)? The reasons for belief are important but are not a substitute for the faith. Tell your story.
I've lately (6 months?, 1 year?) been dwelling more and more on the Bible as one continuous story. I don't think it is said outright but the Bible gets cornered into Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, and/or a collection of examples (good and bad) in which God reveals how we should live. Pushing King David into a story about adultery flattens him from being a real person who was after God's own heart. He was great and greatly flawed; he was human. I've been trying to see Genesis to Revelation as the unravelling of one story. It has been overwhelming as it has worked together. This is probably why "The Jesus Storybook Bible" has become one of my favorite books. The Bible relates in new ways.
2) Fathers as the everlasting story element.
Not unrelated to item 1 is that everyone can relate to a story with a father, or a lack of one. All verbal descriptions of God will fall short, but they can help us understand a facet of Him. But when he is described as the Good Shepherd; I miss out. I've never tended sheep. I can understand protecting, leading and feeding; but that is a far cry from doing it. Understanding how to ride a bike is greatly different from the experience of riding a bike. So that if something was called not just a good bike, but The Good Bike. It will ride fast and leisurely, smooth in all terrains, effortless to navigate and manage. Wheels grip, grips stay on handlebars, bars do not bank you in nasty spots, pedals will not break, and brakes always work even when wet. Having ridden a bike (and failed with resulting bloody knees) I have a deeper understanding. The experience and trials of where it has fallen from the standard helps me understand how great that level of perfection is.
Now having some years as a father I understand the importance of a father and how to do it right. Most importantly is to help my children to understand that their hunger for a good father needs to go beyond me. There is a Father much more important, and who does it better. He loves perfectly. Once grasped it is like riding a bike, you never forget.