Every person, whether in a positive or negative way, has experienced fatherhood. For Christians, God is our Father. In John 14:20 we read, “On that day, you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Knowing that God is our Father, Jesus gives us a story to show the heart of God as a father in Luke 15:11-31 when we read the parable of the Prodigal Son. To simplify the parable, a son rejects his father and departs from the father to live a life of sin in the world. As a result of meaningless and wasteful sin, the son finds himself in the lowest of places. After a time, the son remorsefully returns to the father, who meets the son with loving arms and forgiveness.  Even with the son’s rebellion, disrespect, selfishness, pride, lust, foolishness, rejection of the father and greed, the father sees the son as his beloved. The parable shares many truths of the fatherhood of God, some of which include: faithfulness, provision, humility, purity, forgiveness, generosity, understanding, kindness, attentiveness, love, discernment, care, and rejoicing in restored relationships.

Personally, I have a difficult time separating the story of the Prodigal Son from my own story. I have a tendency to view myself as the son and my earthly and Heavenly Father as the father in the story. I believe that God has blessed me with a dad who is a great example of fatherhood because he points me to my heavenly Father. My dad has many Christ-like characteristics of fatherhood; for example, he raised me to be honest with him and communicate questions, difficulties, temptations, gratitudes,  thankfulness and prayer requests. I can approach my Dad in times of need, which is a physical example of running to God. My dad has encouraged me to repent from sin and turn in faith to our Heavenly Father. Dad and God have seen me at my lowest points and have always embraced me in love, understanding, forgiveness and tender care. Ultimately, God knows me completely. What a beautiful gift and testimony my Dad has been for the love and fatherhood of God. 

This creative depiction of the Prodigal Son strives to express the emotions between the father and son once the son returns. Positionally, the son is slightly lower than the father to showcase a state of humility and respect. The father’s eyes are at peace in the presence of the son. The cuts on the son’s face are reflective of my own cuts and hurts from the sin of this world. I have cuts in my life from quenching the Holy Spirit, drinking, sexual sin, lies, rebellion, greed, loss, and evil. 

In the video of the artwork, notice how the cuts on the face of the son become very bloody and the father cries a tear of blood. The blood on the face of the son flows with deep emotion and pain. In the same way, the father cries a tear of blood due to deep grief. But that moment lasts only for a moment. As I was drawing, I wanted to showcase the pain of sin, but God sees me as His son and His beloved. I can approach God under the identity of His sonship – so I changed the image to showcase the forgiveness the Father offers from sin. The cuts are mended and I added halos to demonstrate being made righteous by Jesus and belonging to God. 

Notice the green robe is over both the father and son, which implies unity, provision and acceptance. The robe is green to represent healing, growth and newness of life. Their hair colour is similar – representing the fact that we are made in His image. The blue background is a swirling mixture of chaos and colour to show the pulls of the world, which will be present until the day we are with the Lord. 

God the Father loves me and desires a relationship with me of transparent humbleness and reliance on Him. He has the power and authority to demand respect and praise. Even in that justifiable state of Fatherhood, God is gentle and approachable. As His son, there is nothing that can remove my sonship from the Father. He is faithful and holds me fast in His arms, as we read in Romans 8:38-39. As a Christian, I may struggle, but God the Father will always love me. 

Like this artwork, I thank God for being the director and artist of my life. He has blessed my life with many colours and blessings. As my Father, God loves me and shows me His mercy. He holds me as His son and I can trust Him as my Father.

Jacob Pettibon

is a current Winter Bible School student and has kindly agreed to share his creative reflection.

This news item was posted on 15 December 2023.

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