I am very fortunate to have been blessed with an earthly father who loved me and poured into me. I don’t know if he was a “typical” father. Is there is such a thing? There are worldly stereotypes and expectations. I grew up in a time when the role of dads was a defined differently than in today’s world; it was also a time when dads’ roles were being challenged and changed. There was the working dad of the 50’s, who came home to the housewife who did all the cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing. And dad was the disciplinarian. In the 60’s and 70’s when women were spending more time working and women’s roles were being expanded through the Feminist Movement, more focus was placed on dads helping out in the home.
In that, I believe my dad was a quiet ground breaker. I grew up seeing my dad pitch in with dishes and cooking. Of course, this was more in my teenage years. In my early years, my dad traveled for work a lot, and my mom was on her own with my siblings and me. But in my later childhood, my mom and dad worked at the same place, rode together every day, and shared household and childrearing responsibilities. My dad was not too expert of a cook in the kitchen, but he rocked at grilling. And he gained skills in the kitchen over the years. He could fry an egg, and he made a mean pot of chili. But generally, he participated in the kitchen by peeling vegetables and washing pots and pans as my mom prepared meals. He helped with grocery shopping, too; although, he would sometimes come home with the wrong stuff. He also paid the bills and kept up the lawn. He planted and tended our backyard garden. And he addressed all the Christmas cards. He had gorgeous handwriting.
One of my favorite memories is working with my dad at the beginning of each school year to cover my books. I don’t know that kids do that anymore; however, we were required to cover our books to protect them and make them last longer. Instead of buying covers, my dad always made them. A brown paper bag, some scissors, and a marker were all that he needed to make me great covers. He would cut and fold, and then script the name of the subject on the front of the book with his calligraphy style handwriting. “It’s all in the wrist,” he’d say. “You have to move the wrist when you write, not just use your fingers.”
However, my dad was not the mechanical type or Mr. Fix-It type. My theory for his less than stellar skills in this area is that he had two older brothers, who were both very good at tinkering and fixing, and as the youngest of five children, he didn’t need to learn these skills. Or, it may be that his bent was more toward academic things.
I once wrote an article about my dad saying he should have been a college professor. He had the look, the pipe, and beard, and he loved expounding on topics. His business experience made him a grammarian, and I believe that is where my obsession with grammar began.
Perhaps you were not as fortunate in your earthly father. Many grow up with absent fathers, and today it is epidemic. You may read this and feel cheated in some way.
My father was not perfect. No earthly father is. But there is a Father who is Perfect and who is a Father to all. He specifically says He will be a Father to the fatherless. He promises to defend widows and set the lonely into families. (Psalm 68:5-6) When we lack earthly parents through absence or failure, we can depend on God to be Our Father. He provides all we hope for.
We hope for love from a father. Jesus demonstrated that love by dying on the cross for our sins that we might be restored to a relationship with God the Father. John 15:13 says, Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 1 John 4:16 adds, God is love. The love from God is a perfect love. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
We hope for security and stability from a father. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5) He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:4)
We hope for provision from a father. God is Our Provider in all things. He assures us we shouldn’t worry about food or clothes because our heavenly Father knows we have need of all these things. (Matthew 6:26-32) My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
We hope for guidance and advice from a father. Proverbs 3:5-6 assures us guidance. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. And James 1:5 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
We hope for mentoring and direction. Isaiah 30:21 is one of my favorite verses. It assures us that God is providing direction. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” And further in Psalm 37:23, The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way.
We hope for teaching. Good teachers give us instruction and then let us try. God promises to teach us and keep a watch on us. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8)
We hope for gifts. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. (James 1:17)
We also should also expect discipline from a loving father. A father’s responsibility is to train children and help them learn as they mature. God has given us His Word, the Bible, and all of it is given to instruct and discipline. II Timothy 3:16-17 says, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
We will make mistakes, but God the Father also forgives. We expect forgiveness from a Father, and God has promised forgiveness. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
God, the Father is the Ultimate Father. Regardless of our earthly fathers, we can count on God to provide all we need to grow up in Christ.
Like any loving parent, God has plans for us. We are allowed to choose our own way, but when we follow our Father’s plans, we are acting with wisdom. God assures our future. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
When we follow His plans and His guidance as Our Loving Father, we will flourish. This promise is in Psalm 92:12-14. The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.
As we approach another Father’s Day, find joy and gratitude in honoring your earthly father. And if you do not have an earthly father, or even if you do, remember to give thanks and praise for your heavenly Father, the Perfect Father.