July 31, 2020

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

God is a loving Father for both parents and their children

Sean GallagherIt’s interesting how parents are sometimes compared to birds and the family home to a nest.

The image is commonly used when children are old enough to move out on their own. Parents are seen as helping their children learn how to fly on their own. And then when the last child moves away, the parents become “empty nesters.”

But comparing the lives of parents and families to those of birds is relevant in other ways. Much of the hard work that parents do to bring their children to a safe birth and then to care for them when they’re helpless babies can be seen in the dedication of mother and father birds in caring for their eggs and nestlings.

It’s also a very old comparison. Our heavenly Father is compared in various places in the Old Testament to a bird caring for its young.

Near the end of the Book of Deuteronomy, as the Israelites were on the verge of entering the long-awaited promised land following generations of hardship in the wilderness and slavery in Egypt, we see this description of the relationship of God to his chosen people:

“As an eagle incites its nestlings, hovering over its young, so he spread his wings, took them [and] bore them upon his pinions” (Dt 32:11).

This same loving care that the Lord gave to the Israelites and the desire he had for them to spread their own wings, he has for us, too.

All of this was on my heart and mind recently as my family and I helped my oldest son Michael move out of our home across Indianapolis to a house where he’ll live with his housemates during his freshman year at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Reflecting on how the Scriptures show God’s fatherly care for us is humbling for me. After 18 years of life as a father, I still have quite a learning curve ahead of me.

And maybe Michael, as the oldest of our five boys, has experienced that the most. Each new stage of life for him has been a new stage for me as a father.

So, as I helped him move into his new home, I guess I was especially aware of my shortcomings in my life as a father. This just shows the wisdom of God’s design for raising children.

Thankfully, I’m not the only person responsible for guiding Michael to this turning point in his life. My wife Cindy has been a wonderfully dedicated mother. And, overarching it all, is our heavenly Father’s care. Michael has surely gotten to where he’s at today through the indispensable help of God’s grace.

As parents are cognizant of their own missteps in caring for their children, it’s important for them to remember that they’re as much children of our heavenly Father as their children are.

In God’s eyes, it doesn’t matter how many years of parenting we have under our belts. We’re all still nestlings that he’s seeking to raise up on his wings so that we can fly on our own. For even if we’ve had past successes in parenting (all of them ultimately due to God’s grace in any case), we’re all still fallible humans easily prone to making mistakes.

So, maybe knowing that God continues to care for us and believes in us, despite our many failures, can encourage us to try to spread our wings and help our children—our nestlings—do the same. †

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