The Son Becomes the Father and the Father Becomes the Son
In June of 2006 my wife and I went to the theatre to watch Superman Returns. As usual, I did not leave disappointed: from the imaginative cinematography to the engaging storylines, the movie moved swiftly along, but it was one encounter that had the hair on my skin stand up. After Superman was made aware he had a son, he went to visit him while he was sleeping. As Superman looked upon his son in the middle of the night, he said:
"You will be different, sometimes you'll feel like an outcast, but you'll never be alone. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father and the father becomes the son."
These words are about family legacy, and Superman is passing on his most important lesson to his son, Jason. It was the last line that pierced my heart: “The son becomes the father and the father becomes the son.” It’s as if he is saying, “by virtue of becoming a father, I better know what it means to be a son.” This was a weighty truth for me in 2006.
In June of 2006 my wife was 6 months pregnant with our first son Kolbe. At this time, I was trying to make sense of my new feelings. Upon hearing Superman’s words: “The son becomes the father and the father becomes the son,” it suddenly dawned on me: In becoming a father, over time, I will better understand what it means to be a son to God the Father.
Thirteen years and four kids later, Superman’s words have been like a prism for me to better understand who I am as a child of God. Four of the five most joyful days in my life were the births of my four children (the other day being my wedding day). Just as I rejoice, God the father rejoices in baptism and our spiritual birth.
As a father, the joy I receive in being with my kids is not always in what we are doing, but that I am doing it with them. Just as I revel in spending time with my kids, so does God desire we spend time with Him—that we involve Him in everything we do.
As a father, I sometimes say “no” or “not yet” to my children because in my “no” there is an immeasurable greater yes to their health and spiritual well-being. The closer my children are with me the greater they will understand the “why” behind my “no” or “not yet.” In our prayer life, God sometimes says “no” or not yet” to us as His children because in His “no” there is the greatest “yes” to our health and spiritual well-being. The closer we are to God the greater we will understand God’s response to our prayer.
As a father, my heart is always deeply moved when my children say, “Thank you.” Just as my heart is moved by my children’s gratitude, so is the heart of God the Father moved when we say: “thank you” for his many blessings.
These are just a few examples of how I have begun to see the spiritual life of God’s fatherhood through the eyes of my biological fatherhood. Indeed, what pierced my heart thirteen years ago has become my interpretive key to better understand God calling me "son" – for in becoming a father, I have become a better son (by the grace of God, go I).