A few years ago my dad was really sick with some virus- he was throwing up, dizzy, and the whole works. I don’t think he even knows that I know about this – but my mom told me how awful he was feeling. He got up and went to work. On his way to work, he had to stop the car every few miles because he felt so nauseous that he had to throw up. He went to work, got through his long day, and came home. I never heard him complain once. He could not afford to miss a day. Why? For me- for my family. He works so hard to make sure that he can pay for my college and has already made arrangements to pay for my two younger sisters when it is their turn. He has made sure that he can provide, not just for my family’s needs, but for our wants as well.
I wholly trust that my dad always has my best interests at heart. I know this and am confident that he would never do anything to intentionally harm me. He loves me and would give everything for me- but the reality is this: he is not perfect. He has made his share of mistakes and has had to deal with the consequences of bad decisions; after all, he is only human.
If I can have such firm trust in my dad, a man who – like all of us – is a sinner, is imperfect, and makes mistakes, how come I am not able to have such unshakable trust in a God who is perfect, holy, and righteous? How come my faith trembles at the slightest hint of uncertainty? How come I question his motives and fail to realize that He has plans for me? Perhaps it is because I do not know this Father as well as I should.
I am sure I upset my dad sometimes. I am sure he at some point has been disappointed in me, frustrated at something I have done, annoyed by something I have said. But, that has never undermined his love for me; nor has it compromised his willingness to sacrifice everything to put my needs before his own. The sacrifices he makes for me are never conditional on my behavior; rather they are rooted in his love for me- a love that is larger than I can see. I know that my dad loves me, but I will never know how much. I will never see the quiet sacrifices he made for me. I live the benefits of those sacrifices without having felt the accompanying pain. However, the sacrifices my dad has made are merely a dim reflection of the ultimate sacrifice God the Father made. The Father’s sacrifice is one that contained the power eternal life, and it is a sacrifice that we will never feel. He is our Father. No matter how many times we mess up, no matter how deep of a pit we dig ourselves into, He waits for us, the prodigal children, with open arms and love unfathomable. The Father’s love. The love that conquered death. The love that forgives us. The love that cannot be tarnished by our shortcomings. The love that is unending, that is perfect, that is holy. How quickly we forget what it means to have a Father who loves us as we are- with all our imperfections and flaws
My dad is not a very emotional guy – I don’t see him cry very often. When I left for college, I remember that he teared up and said that he was proud of me and that he loved me. That was really all I needed to hear. It meant everything to know that he was behind me. His words were few, but they contained all of my unspoken memories with him; they contained all that I had learned from him, and they reminded me that I would carry a part of him with me even when we were apart. He is my dad and has shaped who I am. I think we often forget that God can only be our Father if we spend enough time with Him to develop a relationship with Him. How can we trust in His promises if we don’t even know who He is? How can we find comfort and trust in the words He speaks when we have not allowed him to shape us into who we need to become.
We can look at many fathers in the Bible who were godly men of faith, but the truth is, they were all imperfect.
Noah had a drinking problem. Abraham lied that his wife was his sister to protect himself. Isaac favored one of his sons more than the other. Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. Moses committed murder. David was guilty of adultery, and Solomon was an idolater. We look at these fathers and godly leaders with great admiration, often forgetting that their legacy is not exactly the cleanest. It is tarnished with lies, mistrust, doubt, and the depths of sin. Yet, despite this, God was able to do incredible things through these men. God is the ultimate Father. He is the only perfect one. He provides a template for how we are to live; he has sacrificed it all; he loves us more than we know; and He has given us the divine promise of eternal life. The shortcomings of all of the fathers in The Bible and the sins of my own father are powerful reminders of the only perfect Father.
When I look at the sacrifices my Dad has made, the trust I place in him, and the love he has for me, I begin to experience the tip of the character of God. But even this reflection cannot begin to capture the depth and breadth of God.
My dad is a man of his word. When he promises me something, I know he will follow through- most of the time. If I so trust my dad’s promises, how much more, then, should I trust God’s? Remember what the Father has promised you.
“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” ~Deuteronomy 31:8
“I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” ~Isaiah 44:22
“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” ~Matthew 17:20
“You shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.” ~Isaiah 30:19
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be gloriﬁed in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” ~John 14:13-14
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” ~John 15:7
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” ~Mark 11:24
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and ﬁnd me, when you seek me with all your heart.” ~Jeremiah 29:12-13
My father is human. God, my Father, is divine. Do not forget the God that is behind the promises.
Happy Father’s Day!