Summary: From the I Can Only Imagine movie / campaign. God is a heavenly father. A perfect father. Unlike any father we have had on this planet. Using the prodigal son story we identify the traits of our heavenly dad.

Those grandkids of ours are tearing me apart.

On Tuesday the call had come to evacuate the area of the coast where our whole family had rented a beach house. We had been there for a total of three days. On Tuesday night, trying to avoid traffic, Zach packed up the truck, put the kids in the car seats, and they were going to be headed to his in-laws house across the state. Only one hitch; in the backseat Tucker was crying. Through his sobs he said that he didn’t want to leave Nan and Paw - our nicknames. The little four-year-old heart was feeling something. And our 60-year-old hearts were also feeling something at that moment. That little boy touched the father heart of me.

Stinking kid!! And then do you know what he did? Zach and hope eventually made their way to West Virginia to wait out some of the storm. And so on Monday we are at Dave’s Gym working out and we had brought little Tucker along with us. When the workout was over we were just messing around in his yard… Well… He has an electric fence surrounding some of his garden and Tucker’s mother had the fence unplugged and then told him to go and touch it while he was getting my attention to pretend he was being electrocuted. When I saw him about the touch that I yelled out his name and then he touched it and laughed. Again, that was out of the heart of the father wanting to protect his children.

But any love or any feelings I have toward my family are minuscule compared to the father in heaven…

Matthew 7:11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

We are beginning a four-week series called “I can only imagine” based off of the movie of the same name. Today I want to talk to you about imagining a father… A perfect heavenly father who loves you a million times more than I could ever love my grandson. Today I want to talk to you about a heavenly father who is perfect, gracious, loving and all of his dealings with us.

- A father with a personal love

- a father with a purposeful love

- a father with a providing love

- a father with a protecting love

- a father with a promised love

- a father with a proven love

- a father with a powerful love

- a father with a passionate love

Many of us are hardwired with memories when the word “father” or “dad” is spoken. Some of those memories are good and some of those memories are bad. Have you ever been involved in youth sports? I have seen just about every kind of a father at a ballgame…

- The abusive father who nothing is ever good enough for.

- The absent father who never shows up.

- The casual father who doesn’t seem to care whether he’s there or not.

- The father who works while he watches.

- The father who didn’t want to be there in the first place and he makes it known to everybody.

- The father who is overprotective of his kid and as always angry at the coach.

- The father who wants to be the coach - not because he can coach - he just wants to make sure his kid plays.

What comes to mind when you hear the word "God"?

Some relate to God as a coach; nope real personal relationship but lots of shouts of “run faster, jump higher, two more laps.” It’s like your job is to perform well.

Others think of God more as a teacher. To them, being a Christian means studying harder, learning more, memorizing doctrines and texts of Scripture and then regurgitating it all on test day. The important thing is getting all "A's" and graduating to the next "grade" of spirituality. God's primary role is to make sure we spell His name right and assign detention when we misbehave.

Then there are those for whom God is a boss. Christians are just so many employees who are responsible for getting to work on time and putting in a solid eight hours. God is there principally to fill out performance reports and to decide who gets a raise, who gets a vacation, and who gets fired!

How do you view him?

I don’t know what kind of father you ever had but maybe it is very difficult for you to entrust your soul to another father. But let me tell you a little bit about God as our father.

If I were to transport you back in the Jewish culture in the New Testament era they would hardly or maybe never speak of God as a father. The word “God” would conjure up images of fear, respect, maybe a father that couldn’t be pleased, someone who punishes, or an angry and yet powerful figure. It would probably be common that they would be rather terrified of this God in heaven. Certainly they saw God as unapproachable and distant.

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