Chapter 2 in Fathered By God
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Who Is My Masculine Example?
Many times we feel like our only example of masculinity is like this first video of an uninitiated man trying to initiate.
What we really need is a master, a guide, a True Father like this.
We must understand our everyday lives as the training circle and God as the master training us to become the men He created us to be.
How would your life be different if you had this perspective? What did you notice about the interaction between master and student and how it relates to your relationship with God?
Letting Him Father Us
Henri Nouwen, a Dutch-born Catholic priest and author of 40 books on the spiritual life, spent several days in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia to study, reflect, and draw out the spiritual significance of the painting. Here is an excerpt from his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Meditation on Fathers, Brothers, and Sons(Doubleday,1992):
“The longer I look at ‘the patriarch’, the clearer it becomes to me that Rembrandt has done something quite different from letting God pose as the wise old head of a family. It all began with the hands. The two are quite different. The father’s left hand touching the son’s shoulder is strong and muscular. The fingers are spread out and cover a large part of the prodigal son’s shoulder and back. I can see a certain pressure, especially in the thumb. That hand seems not only to touch, but, with its strength, also to hold. Even though there is a gentleness in the way the father’s left hand touches his son, it is not without a firm grip. “How different is the father’s right hand! This hand does not hold or grasp. It is refined, soft, and very tender. The fingers are close to each other and they have an elegant quality. It lies gently upon the son’s shoulder. It wants to caress, to stroke, and to offer consolation and comfort.”
Henri goes on to say:
“For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life—pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures—and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.
Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
Take a moment to reflect on this painting and what Henri Nouwen writes. Write a few words about what jumps out at you.
God as Daddy
Romans 8:15 The Message (MSG)
15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
What kind of father does this verse describe God as? What images come to mind? Writer a few thoughts in your journal.
|Most of us feel fundamentally fatherless|
|Our core assumption about the world is that we are on our own, we are not cared for.|
|Refusal to see God as father is the central wrong in the world|
|You are the son of a Father who cares for you, he is kind, strong and engaged, wise enough to guide you and generous enough to provide for you.|
|Coming home to our heavenly Father is the goal of human existence|
|New perspective: your life as a process of initiation into masculine maturity and your Father doing the initiating.|
(Respond personally to each question in your journal)
|In what ways do you feel fatherless?|
|Was your father kind, strong, engaged and wise? How would your life be different if he was?|
|Our core assumption is that we are alone to take care of ourselves. How have you learned to survive based on this assumption?|
|Are there other assumptions that you have made because you have felt fatherless?|
|In an effort to survive and manage pain we have developed strategies of coping with our fatherlessness that come out in different ways. Which of these characteristics would you or those who know you describe you as?
|Can you see the connection between these characteristics and your fatherlessness?|
|Where will you find a true father to continue your initiation, where can you turn?|
|What keeps you from looking to God as father? (Too good to be true? Religious concept? Not worthy? Not experiencing it?)|
|What do you think of the phrase “Coming home to the father is the final goal of Christianity”? What would it feel/look like to come home to the Father?|
|Look at the father in the Prodical Son story. What is the Father’s heart like? When have you been the prodical son? Can you imagine your Father embracing you like he does in the story? How does that affect your heart?|
|Will you let God father you? What will you have to let go of to allow him to do so?|
(Find space to be alone with God and ask him these questions. You may want to bring your journal to capture what He says)
|Father, what do you want to say about the core assumption that I am all alone and not cared for?|
|Father, what is your true heart towards me as a son? Are you really a kind, strong, engaged and wise towards me? Can I trust you where others have failed?|
|Father, will you father me? I invite you into the unfathered part of me. Come heal. Come renew. Come transform me.|
(Take time to talk to your ally face to face or over the phone about these questions)
|Discuss the journal questions with your ally.|
|What are your three biggest takeaways from this chapter?|
|Did God speak to you at all in your solitude? What did he say? What did you notice about yourself in solitude?|
(Take time for a personal worship time during this week)
In a quiet setting, view this video with your hands open. Take deep breaths and as you breath in say “Father” and as you breath out say “I come back”. In this way we quiet ourselves and center ourselves before God. Allow the movement of the music and scenery to lead you into worship.
Watch this video in worship noticing where your heart goes.
Read the lyrics of this song as a prayer speaking these things to God.
Do you believe the things you just said to God? Read it one more time, this time resting after each line allowing it to sink in a little more.
Write a few reactions to this worship time in your journal.
What Did You Learn
Try to synthesize everything that you learned down to a few main points by revisiting your notes from each section. Pay special attention to the “Key Points” section.