I am blessed with an amazing dad. One who taught me how to ride a bike, throw a ball, check my oil, and change a tire. More importantly, one who taught me the value of hard work, honesty, and trust. Some of this he taught with words. Much of it, he taught by example.
So it is a difficult thing for me to imagine not having a strong father figure in my life.
I don't think it is by accident that God is often referred to as Our Father. Even more intimately as Abba Father, which I am told is akin to calling Him "daddy". To me, this shows the profound value that God places on the relationship of Father and child. It also provides a roadmap for how a father should, well, father.
Of course, no one will do it perfectly. My daddy comes awfully close, but he is still human and makes mistakes from time to time. But he must have learned how to father from God, because his father was not one to be emulated. In fact, when I think of stories about my dad's father, I am in awe that my dad turned out to be even a fraction of the man he is. Growing up in a home of alcoholism, watching his dad step out on his mom frequently, moving in the middle of the night because his dad gambled away this month's paycheck; honestly, it sounds like the backstory of a serial killer. Not a man who grew up to own his own business, pastor a church, and raise (if I might say so) two pretty great children.
My daddy follows the example of his Heavenly Father. He is patient and kind. He shows grace even when it is most undeserved. He is compassionate and generous to a fault. But he also taught us there are consequences for bad choices. I think because he believed in consequences, he also believed very strongly in helping us make the right choice so we could avoid them.
When I moved to Texas at 18, it was the first time I was apart from my dad. I experienced the crisis of faith that most of us do at some point in our lives. I examined my faith for the first time as something that was mine, not something handed down to me by my parents. I tested that faith. And for a time, thought I may have lost it all together.
But that's the thing about something true. It can be tested and tried and at the end of the day, it is still true.
That is what I found about my faith. I found that the reason my daddy is the man he is had nothing to do with his earthly father and everything to do with his Heavenly One. If this Heavenly Father loved my daddy so much that against all odds, He made a man of integrity, strength, and value, I believed He would do the same for me. Not because I earned it. Certainly not because I deserved it. But because before He is judge, jury or king, He is my Father. And He loves me perfectly.
If your earthly father has disappointed, hurt, or abandoned you, there is still a reason to celebrate on Father's Day. You have a Heavenly Father, an Abba Daddy, who is waiting for you to run into His arms. He can teach you, not only how to be a great father yourself, but how it feels to be loved as His child.
To all of you fathers out there, keep looking up. Our future rests in your hands.