“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6
The room was silent. Heads were down. The mood was heavy.
Finally, someone spoke.
“I’ve been playing football my whole life, but my father has never attended any of my games.” The speaker was Milam, the toughest, grittiest, most talented football player on his high school football team. Then, with a shaky voice and downturned eyes, Milam asked with a tearful whisper, “Why doesn’t my father want to come watch me play? Why doesn’t he love me? Why?”
Milam’s heartbreaking declaration was shared at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) meeting back in 1982. I know because I was there.
When I was a junior in high school, my parents moved my little brother and me to a new school. This meant meeting new friends, trying out for a new football team, and doing my best to fit in. So, when God called me to approach the head coach about starting an FCA Group with the football team, I felt overwhelmed and underqualified. Yet, the comforting assurance from my father helped me muster the confidence—and the faith—to take the role head-on. Over the weeks and months that followed, I saw God do amazing things in that fledgling FCA group, including how He worked in Milam’s life.
The night Milam shared the story about his father, he was responding to the question that had been posed to the group, “How is your relationship with your parents?” After posing the question and applying some of the small-group leadership skills I’d been taught by my father, I allowed the room to grow uncomfortably quiet. It was all I could do to remain silent and allow the Holy Spirit to begin to do its work.
And it was then and only then that Milam finally shattered the silence and spoke about the rejection and pain he was carrying. You see, despite being one the best players on the football team, Milam didn’t see himself as the Team MVP, All-District, and All-State player that he was. He only saw himself as an unloved, unwanted nuisance who was undeserving of his father’s love, time, and attention.
If we’re honest, most of us are just like Milam. We long for our earthly fathers’ love, acceptance, and approval. Yet, for some of us, the Christmas season can be a difficult time. We may be missing our fathers who have passed away, and we might feel a sense of loss. Or, we might have never had the kind of father we wished for and feel a longing for that kind of relationship. These feelings can be tough to deal with, especially during the holiday season.
It’s no different in our spiritual life!
In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is referred to as our “Everlasting Father.” However, it’s doubtful Isaiah had the Trinity in mind when he described Jesus as our Everlasting Father. He was not suggesting that God the Son is the same as God the Father within the Trinity. The prophecy of Isaiah regarding the Messiah as the Everlasting Father can be better understood as referring to the fatherly and nurturing role that the Messiah would play towards us, highlighting the enduring care and guidance He provides.
To understand the nature of God, one only needs to look to Jesus. Jesus is the perfect image of God and represents Him exactly. When Jesus, our “Everlasting Father,” came to earth, He showed us how to love one another. He filled us with the love of heaven so that we might reflect that love to others.
And it is through Jesus that we can come to know the Father (John 14:16) and enter into His eternal care, protection, and provision. In Jesus, we have the perfect leader, protector, and shepherd who embodies all the qualities of a loving father. He will forever be father-like to us, fulfilling every desire we have in a relationship with an earthly father. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Everlasting Father, nothing, not even death, can ever separate us from His love. Praise God, once we become a child of His through Christ, we belong to Him forever!
As we celebrate this Christmas season, let us take the time to thank God for providing us with eternal security through Jesus Christ, our Everlasting Father.
Questions for Thought
- How does the knowledge that Jesus is your “Everlasting Father” bring comfort and security?
- Whether you are a parent, caregiver, or simply engaged in various relationships, consider how you can embody the enduring care and guidance of the “Everlasting Father” in your daily life. What adjustments do you think would help others see these qualities in you?
God, thank You that You are my Everlasting Father. Regardless of my relationship with my earthly father, You are loving, kind, gracious, just, and good. Thank You that You will never leave me or forsake me. You alone are perfect. God, continue to work in me and make me look more like Jesus. Help me to love others the way You love me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you have (or had) a strained relationship with your earthly father, it’s possible you might still be holding onto feelings of hurt, disappointment, or anger. If so, ask the Everlasting Father to help you release those emotions, replacing them with His perfect peace. Remember, forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation. It simply means letting go of the things you can’t control and giving them to God, the ultimate healer, redeemer, and shepherd. If you were blessed with a loving earthly father, take a moment to thank him for how he’s raised you and/or thank the Lord for the time you had with him.
Minister to Young Married Adults
Barry is passionate about helping couples in all seasons of life have extraordinary marriages, healthy families, and Christ-like homes. Barry and his wife, Ellen, are the proud parents of twins.