Movies/My Culture/Teen Culture God the Father, Where you Least Expect Him by Kiernan Doyle I’ve been blessed with a great relationship with my dad and yet, that didn’t stop me from running away when I was eight years old. I was with a couple of friends at the playground behind the field. My dad walked away for a second to go get ready for his upcoming softball game. At that exact moment, my playground crew decided we wanted a change of scenery, so we went to one of the kid’s houses across the street. When my dad came back, he freaked out. He began to look all around and most of the people at the field were searching for me as well. It was simply by chance that he saw me, peeking out of the window and waving at him from the house across the street. Should I have wandered away that day? Should my dad have left me for a second? Probably not, but dads and kids mess up. They’re human. It’s just a fact of life. God, however, is perfect and while our earthly fathers are imperfect, they reflect some sense of who He is as our heavenly Father. That said, our reflection isn’t always a good one as we may have grown up with an absent or poor example of fatherhood. When our understanding of fatherhood is damaged, our understanding of God’s Fatherhood can be damaged as well, which is why we need examples of positive fatherhood. Fortunately, this is where my appreciation for cinema comes in — there are movies out there that actually have powerful, true, and good depictions of imperfect, human fathers that authentically reflect who God is as Father. (Beware: spoilers ahead). Fatherhood Is a Pursuit In the movie “Coco,” Miguel’s grandmother, Coco, grew up without her father. There’s confusion in the Rivera family after his quick disappearance, which eventually leads to the assumption that he abandoned the family to pursue a music career. In the end of the movie, we learn that Coco’s father, Hector, desperately tried to return to his daughter but was stopped by an evil man. When Coco remembers the truth of the deep love of her father, new life beyond the bitterness is brought to the Rivera family. There is ultimately closure and freedom in the truth that her father would go through anything to find and be reunited with the ones he loves. Much like Hector in the film, God the Father pursues us and desires to draw close to us, despite whatever seems to separate us. As we see in “Coco,” external circumstances and the brokenness of the world often times make us feel like we are abandoned. My own heaviness of heart can lead me to draw conclusions about God — that He doesn’t love me or that He has abandoned me. The reality is that, despite the brokenness of the world, God chases after His children. The forces of evil cannot keep our heavenly Father away. When we come to know the pursuit of the Father and His victory over evil, we can begin to live in freedom as His children. Fatherhood is a Joy In “The Greatest Showman,” P.T. Barnum desires to build a legacy and life of security for his family. In his searching however, he loses himself and begins to spend less time with his family. Eventually, he is faced with a decision: he can continue to search for happiness in his newfound success, or he can leave it behind and find happiness within his family. At the end of the movie, Barnum runs to be with his family, leaving everything else he once valued behind. We witness the joy of a father as he watches his daughter’s ballet recital and whispers the words, “It’s everything you’d ever want. It’s everything you’d ever need.” God the Father teaches us that fatherhood is a joy. Our Father in heaven joyously created us. He is not a punisher who simply tolerates us. On the contrary, He delights in us and the things that delight us. Our talents and gifts can be used to glorify Him. In doing so — in living out our identity as children of God — we bring great joy to our Father. Fatherhood Is Sacrificial I loved “A Quiet Place” so much! I was on the edge of my seat the whole movie. It was the most anxious I’ve been in years. In “A Quiet Place,” the Abbott family lives in a world ravaged by blind monsters that prey on humans. As long as the family keeps quiet, the monsters are unable to locate them. Millicent, the eldest daughter, struggles with the rules of safety established by her father, Lee. She begins to believe she is unloved because of the strict boundaries he’s given her. Near the end of the movie, Lee comes across one of the creatures that has just located his children. As the beast prepares to attack, Lee unhesitatingly distracts it, presenting himself as a new target and allowing his children to run to safety. As he prepares to die, he shares one last message to his daughter Millicent: “I love you. I have always loved you.” Lee sacrifices himself and the children are able to escape to freedom. God the Father teaches us that fatherhood is sacrificial. He does not hesitate to drop everything for the sake of His children. There’s no second-guessing. There is only a deep love that leaps in between His children and the consequences of death. The sacrifice made by our heavenly Father takes away a fate that came to claim us. The wages of sin is death. The sacrifice of the Father, in giving His Son, has allowed us to live in freedom. Rather than viewing God as a harsh rule maker, we should see Him as a sacrificial, loving God, who has said to us from the beginning of time, “I love you. I have always loved you.” Seeking Out His Fatherhood Although God created fatherhood through His example, there is no denying that our idea of fatherhood — for better or worse — is shaped by our earthly father figures. But, there can be great fruit if we pray for God to bring positive examples and witnesses of fatherhood into our lives. Whether they’re depicted on the screen, people we meet at church, or parents of friends, these people can restore the broken view of fatherhood, and even show us the truth about who God is and how deeply He loves us. Through this restoration, we can begin to truly know God as a loving Father and understand who we are: His beloved children.