Encountering God Through The Father's Love

Miruna Veenhuis – Lead Pastor

Our mission at Catch the Fire Ottawa is to encounter God’s transforming presence, and then help others experience this transforming presence. 

We are focusing on an encounter with the Father. An encounter is different from just a casual meeting. It is something deeper. 

It’s interesting to look at a study by Dr. Paul Vitz on the lives of more than a dozen influential atheists. Dr. Vitz discovered they all had one thing in common: defective relationships with their fathers. The relationship was defective because the father was either dead, abusive, weak, or had abandoned the children.

But when he studied the lives of influential theists during those same historical periods, he found they enjoyed a strong, loving relationship with a father (or a father substitute if the father was dead).

If we look into people's lives, we can see how much their views about God are reflective of their earthly dads. 


“If we really look into people's lives, we can see how much their views about God are reflective of their earthly dads.” 


I’d say there are six basic father types – performance-oriented, passive, absent, abusive, authoritarian, and the good, but not perfect dad.

When you have a performance-oriented dad, you believe your love is based on what you do. You’re going to try as hard as you can to hide all of your negative qualities and weaknesses and to show off the good things you do. You’ll see that in your relationship with people and with God. You’ll be hard on yourself when you mess up. 

 The passive dad seems to care more about saving face than he does about his children. If you had a dad like that, you’ll see God as passive. You won’t see him as protecting. 

 An absent dad may not be around because of travel or workaholism, or maybe he wasn’t there for other reasons. A dad like that will leave his kids feeling rejected, abandoned, and unwanted. If that was your experience, you’ll see God as absent. You won’t see or believe He is really there, so you might just go through the motions. 

 If you had a father who was abusive physically, emotionally, verbally, or sexually, your reaction would likely have been to shut down. Along with that comes feelings of guilt, shame, unworthiness, low self-esteem, and a sense that it was your fault. That will lead you to see God that way. You will fear Him and be scared that He will punish you. 

An authoritarian father is strong on truth but empty of love. He is a legalist who places obedience over relationship. A dad like this will likely cause you to not see God as a father, but as a master you must work for.

Then there is the good, but not perfect dad. This is a blessing!  But the imperfections are usually subtle issues that hinder us from intimacy with God. Adult children from good dads have a safe hiding place in their parents’ love. But they may have some difficulty letting go of their identity in their dad and finding it in God. Often, they are caught up in works to cover up their lack of identity in God.

My prayer is that all your beliefs that have come or not come from an earthly father would be shattered as you see God for who He is. 


“My prayer is that all your beliefs that have come or not come from an earthly father would be shattered as you see God for who He is.” 


Probably the most famous parable that shows the Father’s Heart message is the parable of the lost, or prodigal, son. It helps us to understand God as Father.

Most Christians know this parable well. The son asks his father for his share of the family inheritance and then goes to a far country and spends it all on wild living. He ends up broke and having almost nothing to eat.  

Then he comes to his senses, and decides he’ll go back to his dad and say he’s no longer worthy to be his son, and ask to work for him as an employee.

But his father acts like our heavenly Father would. 

Luke 15:20 says, “From a long distance away, his father saw him coming, dressed as a beggar; great compassion swelled up in his heart for his son who was returning home. So, the father raced out to meet him. He swept him up in his arms, hugged him dearly, and kissed him over and over with tender love. 

Then in verses 22-24 we read, “The father said, ‘Quick, bring me the best robe, my very own robe, and I will place it on his shoulders. Bring the ring, the seal of sonship, and I will put it on his finger. And bring out the best shoes you can find for my son. Let’s prepare a great feast and celebrate. For this beloved son of mine was once dead, but now he’s alive again. Once he was lost, but now he is found!’” 

The picture here is what God wants us to see and encounter today. He wants to shatter all of those views that you’ve had and believed about Him that are not true. He wants to speak love to you, hold you in His arms, and cover you with His grace and love.