The two kids were quarrelling in the back of the car, and their father, Jason Wong, was furious. Despite his scolding, Samuel and Sarah refused to make up.

Resisting the urge to lay a hand on them, he stopped the car a few hundred metres from their home, turned around, and told them to get out and make their own way home.

Donna, his wife, looked at him with concern.

Their son and daughter were both still in primary school, but Jason assured her that it was safe.

“I was worried too,” he admits, “but I felt that they had to solve the problem on their own and work together.”

“I didn’t fully understand God the Father until I become a father myself,”

Arriving home, Jason mentally rehearsed the lecture he was going to give the kids about them having to look after each other when their parents were no longer around.

But some long, tense minutes later, as he and Donna waited outside their home for the two kids to arrive, Jason saw that he didn’t need to lecture them any more.

Sarah and Samuel were holding hands and laughing as they walked back together.

At that moment, Jason realised how God the Father felt whenever His children were not able to live in unity.

“I realised how much it hurts Him. And how He has no choice but to let us go through difficult times so that we can work out our problems. In that moment, I saw the heart of the Father.”

The Love And Joy Of The Father

Parenting, says Jason, the Chairman of Focus On The Family (Singapore), has changed his own relationship with God.

“I didn’t fully understand God the Father until I become a father myself,” he says. “When I felt the joy of watching them grow, I could imagine God looking at me with the same love. I could understand why God desired me and why He wants to spend time with me.

“When we walk away from God, when we disobey Him, when we do our own thing, it hurts Him,”

Carrying them when they were young, seeing them learn their first words and first steps brought him the greatest happiness, and he could imagine how delighted God felt to see His children grow and how they looked to Him for everything.

The Bible contains numerous references to God as the Father, and speaks of the Father’s heart for His children.

2 Corinthians 6:18, for example, says: “‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’”

And, 1 John 3:1 cries out in wonder: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

The Pain Of The Father

At the same time, Jason has also felt the pain of a father as he watched his kids struggle through illness, their studies, conflict with friends, and failure.

“Now I know how God feels when He wants to save us and to take away our pain,” he says.

And he also felt hurt, anger, and disappointment whenever his children made the wrong choices in life.

“When we walk away from God, when we disobey Him, when we do our own thing, it hurts Him,” he says. “The more you love your children, the more you feel the pain when they walk away.”

Jason remembers how his daughter used to drop whatever she was doing and run to him and hug him whenever he came home from work.

By being responsible, avowing vices, and ensuring that our marriage is strong, we can provide stability for our children,”

One day, however, she didn’t move when Jason returned, but stayed on the sofa, with her eyes looking at the corner of the living room. When Jason peeked round the corner, he realised why—she was engrossed in a TV programme.

“It just hit me,” he recalls. “That’s how I treat God sometimes—letting the attractions (or more like distractions) of the world take my focus from Him. I could feel His longing, and how it pleased Him so much whenever we turn from the world to look at Him. I realised how much He wants us to let go of the things of the world and choose Him.”

One Bible verse that inspires him is David’s pledge to the Lord in Psalm 27:4, when he says:

“One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.”

The Presence Of The Father

Sarah’s first visit to a dentist also left a strong mark on Jason. Although the dentist, a family friend, was very gentle, the sound of the drill terrified Sarah, and she refused to stay in the dentist’s chair.

So the dentist told Sarah to get off and instructed Jason to take the seat instead.

Jason thought she just wanted him to show his daughter how Daddy could stay in the chair, but the dentist proceeded to ask Sarah to get onto the chair and lie on top of her father.

“So there I was, holding her and comforting her, and Sarah was all right,” says Jason.

This, he believes, is what earthly fathers should do—represent Jesus and the Father God to their children.

“That was a great lesson. Sometimes in life we have to go through challenges, and God cannot take them away or take our place. But He is there with us, holding and comforting us as we go through the trial. He gives us His presence, and that’s enough.”

The Bible, he points out, contains many comforting promises of God’s presence.

In Exodus 33:14, God tells the Israelites: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” In Matthew 28:20, Jesus tells His disciples: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And in John 14:16, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit’s everlasting presence: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

Showing The Heart Of The Father

Having seen the heart of the Father through his own parenting experience has inspired Jason to be a father in God’s image.

He is reminded of Jesus’ words in John 14:9: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

This, he believes, is what earthly fathers should do—represent Jesus and the Father God to their children.

Having worked as a former prison officer and also in a government ministry helping abused children and at-risk families, Jason has also seen what happens when parents do not give their children a stable family environment and set a good example for their kids.

“If we don’t do parenting properly, we’ll end up with wrong consequences. It influenced my choices on how to be a father who doesn’t cause damage to the people I love. By being responsible, avowing vices, and ensuring that our marriage is strong, we can provide stability for our children,” he says.

Sometimes in life we have to go through challenges, and God cannot take them away or take our place. But He is there with us, holding and comforting us as we go through the trial.

Indeed, some of the most valuable lessons that Jason has received on parenting have come from his own parents. His father raised eight children on a meagre salary as a shipyard worker, was a responsible father who had no vices, and was committed to his wife. His mother supplemented their income by working as a seamstress, and ensured that all eight children were properly fed and educated.

“They were a big influence on my own parenting journey,” says Jason. “Watching them perform their roles in marriage and parenting, sacrificing for their family, and raising their children left a great impression on me. If my parents had not done what they did, my view of family would have been different.”

Knowing this spurs Jason to watch his own life, relationships, and parenting, so that he can give them a glimpse of the Father’s love and presence, and ultimately, lead them to God.

“If fathers can do this, then each time a father comes home from work, it would be like Jesus walking into the house,” he says. “When our children see us and interact with us, they feel as if they are encountering God the Father.”

He adds: “I want them to see my identity as a son to God the Father, and their identity as sons of God the Father.”