What does a father mean to you? Who do you think of? Most of us probably think first of our earthly fathers. I am blessed to think of my dad as one of the greatest fathers a kid could have. He defined fatherhood by selflessly giving his life to his family and to others in general. Dad worked his tail off at the office all day long, but he knew his real job was with his family at home. That was when he gave me his time intentionally, coaching my youth teams, helping me with my math homework, and just being there for me. I was never really embarrassed of dad, even in my teenage years, and I was proud to claim him as part of my family legacy.
My dad had plenty of defining moments that come to mind, but two trump them all. The first was when I procrastinated a science project in 6th grade, thinking I could knock off the entire report in one night. We sat down at the living room table after dinner and cranked out that report together into the wee hours of the morning. My dad, pacing around the table in his blue bathrobe, rubbing his weary eyes, helped me get a 98 percent on that project! When most dads may have checked out, my dad was checking in. Dad never abandoned me in times of need.
The second moment came a few years later when he was coaching my high school rec basketball team. My team was getting throttled in the first quarter something like 24-3. The opposing team’s star player, a red-haired bullish point guard, simply couldn’t be stopped. My dad, the eternal optimist, called timeout and rallied the troops, calling for my best friend Ted to guard him and for the rest of the team to play a box-in-one defense. We stifled red hair for the rest of the game, clawing our way back in, and rode the wave of momentum to a ten point victory. Dad was my hero that day! It was a team effort, but he was the driving force that propelled us forward.
The sad thing is that not everyone has a dad like this. For some, Father’s Day may actually be painful, a day you’d rather forget than pay tribute to. A handful of times I have had students humbly admit to me, “You’re the closest thing to a dad that I have.” These are kids scarred from dads that abuse, dads that are incarcerated, dads that abandon, dads that would rather befriend alcohol over their own children. These kids are dead, numb toward feeling for their own fathers. They’ve never known what the love of a father is. Just ask the campus pastor at our church whose dad was a drunk and nearly boiled over with rage when our pastor accepted Christ as a 14-year-old youth. Let the statistics from the following video show you what I mean.
How sad was that? It makes you think, doesn’t it? Talk about an epidemic. But there is a cure, and this remedy is absolutely 100 percent foolproof. I am not talking about anything a father here on earth can do. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23). I am talking about getting to know your Heavenly Father. The Father that can do no wrong. The Father that according to Psalm 139 knows every essence of our entire being, better than we even know ourselves. The epitome of His unconditional love is found here: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8). If only all earthly fathers could model love in their own families in such a way!
If you earthly father did it right, I hope you thanked him. If he fell short, it is never too late to model forgiveness. If you are a teacher and do not have any children, know that you just might be a father figure to some out there. If you haven’t taken time to thank God for modeling the ultimate love for His children on earth, do so. Lord, I thank you so much for the love that you show me. You are the only father that can love me in such a way that accepts all my shortcomings, and I pray that I can love the same way You do to my own children. May the truth of Your love be spread from now until eternity.
If you need a reminder about how incredible God’s love is, check out Hawk Nelson’s latest hit, “Drops in the Ocean.”