According to the best selling book of all time, all of us are willful orphans. Each one of us was planned, designed, created, and provided for with a world that could sustain us, but we were all separated from God by our own foolish pride and self-absorbed impulses -- yes, I mean sin. Of course, not everyone believes this, but for those that do not, specifically non-Christian parents, analyzing their own lives might help them to see the truth in God’s message.
Being a reformed high school English teacher, I often joke that teaching was all the birth control I ever needed. As much as I loved my students, I was always eager to return them to their parents or guardians at the end of each day. Nevertheless, I eventually discovered that God was not going to let me escape all the responsibilities and sacrifices of parenthood. I believe God has made me a substitute father many times in the lives of teenagers who do not have involved dads. In fact, some do not even know who their fathers are. The absence of a father in their lives is often quite evident. Just having a father present generally seems to lead to better behavior and more self-assurance among the kids I know.
These circumstances have made my knowing that we are all created in God’s image more meaningful and helpful. Knowing that none of us are the fallout of some random-cosmic accident and that none of us evolved from pond slime is quite a confidence builder. The reality of being closely involved with many young people struggling with feelings of not being wanted, loved, or planned by their parents is often quite depressing. However, understanding that almighty God created us and pursues us is not only comforting, it is downright humbling in a mind-boggling kind of way. How much better would our society be if we could teach the fatherless that despite their missing or unknown fathers, the children are not accidents? Their lives truly have divine purpose and value.
Unlike innocent orphans, however, who are generally victims of tragedies or of self-absorbed and irresponsible people, we all become willful orphans as we all fail to overcome our sinful self-will. Is there anyone who has never taken life for granted or failed to control some natural impulse that we would pray those we love would not succumb to? Every parent has probably experienced the pain, frustration, and ultimately anger of dealing with a child that takes parental love and sacrifices for granted. I suspect that is small taste of God’s world.