God the Father.
The picture that metaphor creates for me is one of someone who cares, who loves me, and who will stay in relationship with me no matter what. It has always communicated the love and care of God to me.
But for someone who had a terrible father, it might paint a picture of a God who will abandon them, or abuse them, or not care about them.
A friend wrote me recently and wanted to know what they should do when their dad was so terrible and they keep hearing that God is so good. When they hear “God the Father” they don’t see this loving, kind, forgiving person.
I asked, “What if you thought of God as a mother? Would that help?”
My friend asked, “Is that allowed?”
That’s a great question. God uses the most intimate human relationships possible to describe the divine relationship to human beings. God is described as parent, friend and lover. Why? Because those are the most intimate, deepest human relationships. God is saying, “Imagine the best human relationship you have… and know that this is a pale shadow of the deep love and care I have for you.”
So, yes, it’s certainly allowed. Is your best human relationship — the most beautiful and consistent relationship you have — with your mom? Then, yes, that’s a wonderful place to try to understand how God feels about you.
And, no, it’s not “crazy, liberal theology” or anything like that. It’s just what’s in the Bible.
“As a mother comforts her child, that’s how I will comfort you –” That’s what God says in Isaiah 66:13.
“Can a woman forget the baby she nurses at her breast? Can she hold back compassion for the child she has borne? Even if mothers were to forget, I could never forget you!” Isaiah 49:15. The questions here are rhetorical. God is saying, it’s not often that a mother forgets her child! And even if she were to do so, I never could!
God’s love for you is stronger than you can imagine. God loves you like a nursing mother loves her baby. God loves you like a good, dedicated father. God loves you with the passion and attention of the new lover. God loves you like the best friend who is always there for you.
And the more you get to know God, the more you realize that even our best relationships don’t quite do God’s divine love justice… God is more-than-father, more-than-mother, more-than-lover, more-than-friend.
Imagine the person who loves you the most in life — male or female, friend or family — and multiply it by a million. That’s how God loves you.