I’ve often heard that earthly fathers are our first impression of what God is like. If we have a devoted, loving dad, it’s easier to accept a benevolent, personal, divine creator. If our father is aloof, abusive, or absent, it’s more difficult to believe in a loving heavenly Father.
In my life, I’ve seen that this is true. Not that we can’t experience the loving God despite whatever parenting we’ve had; the discovery just might take longer.
I have been blessed with a dad who made God appealing.
Watching my father’s devotion to his faith and his family instilled in me a sense of “I want that.” I wanted the confidence and joy and steadfastness my father exhibited in how he conducted his life. He lived with purpose and conviction.
That, and he loved my mother – which is the other huge component that represents God: commitment. God is the only entity in life that will never leave us, cheat us, or betray us. If we feel mistreated or abandoned by God, it’s because our knowledge of God is faulty. (Want to know how my folks had a marriage that lasted nearly 70 years?! Read this: 8 Rules for a Lifetime Marriage.)
In short, I simply had a wonderful example of divine love in my father. Even when he was upset about something I’d done (like break the tailgate window of his fairly new station wagon), I never felt that his love was revoked.
People have told me numerous times in life that I am lucky or blessed or unique in that I have a dad who provided such a secure and loving home for me and my siblings. As a kid, I thought everyone lived as we did; as a young adult, I learned that was not the case.
What my father modeled so well was God’s love; Dad was an open vessel for the love of God to pour into our family. He made God accessible to me, familiar and cozy, not big and scary. That’s what a good father can do – lead us to the ultimate, unfailing Father, our Creator. Which is really what we all need; it’s what we’re all looking for.
So today, I honor my earthly dad, because he introduced me to my heavenly dad. It’s the best thing he ever gave me. (That, and all the get-ready-for-bed-and-we’ll-walk-down-to-Dairy-Queen-for-a-treat-in-our-PJs outings.)
I pray for all dads this weekend, that they realize how valuable and needed they are, and that they realize their strongest weapon in being a good and influential father is to seek the heart and guidance of God.
It is the best gift they can give their children.
I love you, Dad. Thank you so much for being a good one.