A familiar and beloved hymn in my life has been BE THOU MY VISION. It plays in my head and in my heart often. The second verse goes like this –
Be Thou my Wisdom and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
“Father” is one of the great attributes of God. As the Creator, our Eternal Father is the sustainer and provider of all that He has made. However, He is only Father to believers in His Son Jesus Christ, whereby they become His legitimate children. Fatherhood implies a loving and close relationship with children, which is not often the case with earthly fathers flawed by sin (to various degrees of intensity). Still, despite the far-reaching consequences of sin, God remains a good, wise, righteous and loving Father.
One of my favorite fathers is pictured in this blogpost (one of my sons-in-law). The picture reminds me of the joy that a new father experiences when holding his child close to his heart. When hope has been fulfilled. When the future is in front. When the good imprint of the father is on the child. When a godly father begins to lay down truth about God so that his child can come to know and love their Father God and experience the reality of “Be Thou My Vision.”
Psalm 78:4,6-8 says, “We will not hide them [God’s Word] from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done…So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands. They would not be like their ancestors– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him.” He is a Perfect Father for His imperfect children – those who trust in Him. Passing on the heritage of faith is the most important thing an earthly father can do.
If you’ve ever been in counseling, you have heard the phrase “family of origin.” Family-of-origin issues plague families just as they did in Adam’s family, in Noah’s family, and Abraham’s family. Generational sin is passed down in a cycle that cannot be broken apart from God’s grace. God, through the redemptive work of His Son Jesus Christ, is the only One who can break the cycle of legacy sin. Despite the consequences of sin, God remains a good, wise, and loving Father. He is a Perfect Father, patient and compassionate, loving and trustworthy.
Genesis 12:1-2 says, “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” God was faithful to His covenant even when Abraham messed up. Yet, even in disobedience, Abraham never lost his God-vision.
Abraham has been called the “father of many nations.” But first, he was a legitimate child of Father God. God was Abraham’s Vision. The vision came in “the midst of common toil” when Abram received God’s call when he lived in Ur with his father Terah who served other gods and worshipped the sun and moon. Ur was a wealthy port city characterized by power and idolatry, not a great environment in which to grow up. Yet, even when Abraham strayed, he never lost his God-vision.
By God’s grace, I have an amazing 89-year-old father, so it’s never been hard for me to draw parallels between him and my Heavenly Father. But, I realize it is difficult for children who have had overbearing demanding, unloving, or abusive fathers to then trust in our Heavenly Father. “Chip off the old block” may be a cliche, but earthly fathers powerfully imprint their nature and nurture on their children. It may be uncanny, but it’s true. The cycle continues without God’s cycle-breaking intervention.
God called Abram out of his family background stigma, and He still does that today. The 2nd verse of “Be Thou My Vision” indicates a close family relationship that can be described by the word “oneness” – between believing child and Heavenly Father. As God speaks to us personally in His Word and we speak to Him in prayer, we become a close knit family – Father and child, the way it is meant to be. Spiritual oneness can be experienced through the sin-cycle-breaking power of God’s Holy Spirit.
John 5:19-21 says, “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.”
Father God, be Thou our vision always.