Today is the day we celebrate fathers. In our nation and our culture, the state of fatherhood is in sad disrepair. Media displays fathers as clueless, lazy or absent. More and more children grow up every day without a father as a stable figure in their lives. And many of those absent fathers don’t even pay child support, leaving many children deprived of basic necessities (all one has to do is look at welfare statistics to see that).
I am blessed, however, with a wonderful father. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that my father was never going to walk out on my mom, or me and my sister. He always told us that divorce was not an option for him and my mom, and so I grew up with an abiding sense of constancy. I also never doubted my father’s love for me.
My dad laments his efforts at fatherhood while my sister and I lived with him and my mom. He wasn’t a perfect father. Show me one that is/was! My dad grew up in a home where his father was an alcoholic. His dad didn’t give him a good example of how to be a father. My dad also suffered a lot of hurt and disappointment while I was growing up – hurts and disappointments that would impact anyone’s life in a profound way.
What really hurts my heart though, is that my dad worries that his failings at fatherhood drove me away from Jesus. When the exact opposite is true. My parents ensured that my sister and I knew who God was from the time we could understand Him. They kept us in church, where we got an excellent education about God’s plan for salvation and His desire to know us intimately.
My father also instilled in me a great love for God’s word. I remember his bible, and how often he read it. I still remember how he would highlight things in his bible with different colored crayons, in order to make the most of his reading. Even when my dad wasn’t pastoring a church, he was studying the word. And that left a great legacy on my heart. I knew that studying the bible was for everyone, not just some spiritual elite. And I knew that the Bible was a critical element of living the Christian life.
When I went to college, I walked away from the Lord. For 7 years, I stayed out of church, out of fellowship, and out of touch with God. During this time, my relationship with my parents, especially my father, grew more and more strained. But deep inside, I longed to have a good relationship with them.
I am so blessed that God’s restorative work in my life when I came back to Him did not stop with my heart, but extended to my relationship with both of my parents. My relationship with my father is better than I ever could have imagined it being. In those 7 years I was falling away, my parents were both growing in the Lord and becoming more and more the people God wanted them to be. My mom and my dad are now two of my very best friends. All of those years of strained relationship have faded into the background, and we now enjoy the fellowship that only the Spirit can bring.
I admire my dad so much. His walk with the Lord and devotion to the word have only grown stronger. He has grown in love and faithfulness, and I would consider it a great honor to be like him in any small way. He is everything to me that a godly father should be, and he’s set a very high bar for my future husband to live up to. I could not ask for more.
So, happy father’s day, Dad. Thank you for being an example to me of God’s father heart.