He gave me horsey rides on his back. He made a swing out of his hands for me. Let me ride on his feet as he walked along. I tried to touch his mustache and he pretended to snap at my fingers. When he came home from work, the first thing he heard was, “Daddddyyyy!!!” and I would leap into his arms. He’d wrap me in a warm hug, his scratchy face against mine.
|our family, circa 1987|
It’s amazing, how a dad affects his children. Research shows that the lack of a supportive father figure can be detrimental to a child. There is something wired into a kid that needs a dad, that needs a strong sense of fathering. It’s practically common knowledge now that most convicted felons were without a father figure during their childhood.
Dads shape hearts, mold lives, and define right and wrong. They provide accountability for their children, and they play a huge role in developing a child’s self-esteem, self-confidence and motivation.
Most importantly, dads almost always contribute to our understanding of God. Their level of involvement in a child’s life paints a picture of who God is. Dads are meant to be a signpost, pointing to the heart of the Father. Demonstrating unconditional, gracious love is perhaps the most significant role in a father's life, because it gives a child an unshakable trust in the heart of God.
And I see this so clearly, with my own dad.
Because he loves me, I can receive love from God.
Because he is safe, I know that God is too.
Because he is trustworthy, I can trust God’s plans for my life.
Because he is generous, I believe God is too.
Because he is loyal, I believe God will never leave me.
Because he is available, I know I can always come to God.
Because he forgives, I know God forgives me and I can receive it.
Because he always works hard, I know God is always working on my behalf.
Because he wants what’s best for me, I know God always has my best in mind.
Because he is gentle, I know and experience the gentle tenderness of God.
Because he is funny, I know God has a great sense of humor.
See how that happens? The presence of a loyal, committed dad, leads me to deeper understanding and trust of a faithful, gracious God.
Does this mean that my life has been an easy cake-walk? No. I’ve still struggled with fear and faith and purpose. That is simply a product of living in the world and walking through life.
But two things I have never doubted: that God is always good, and that I am always loved.
My life is built on those two truths, which were first modeled by my dad. It will always amaze me, how God uses imperfect people, to reflect His perfect goodness. His perfect love.
My dad doesn’t even know, but he is one of my life’s greatest gifts.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you with all my heart, and I am so grateful for you.
*I know there are many whose childhoods are marked with pain and loneliness and desperation for their dad to see them, to care about them, to show them affection and love. You need to know that you are incredibly loved and valued by God. Reach out for Him. He is waiting to be your Dad.