Father’s Day is hard for a lot of people. Some have lost their father, been abandoned by their father, and some simply feel like they didn’t have much of a father to begin with. I know I am one of the lucky ones. It wasn’t until I got into college and met some people who didn’t have the same experience with their father, that I began to understand the impact my dad had left on me. If you’re having a hard time relating or understanding, or maybe you even feel bitter during this time of year… take heart. There’s a reason why God is so often called “Father.” He’s there to clean up the mess, to wipe away the tears, to forgive, to protect. Here are a few lessons my earthly father taught me that my Heavenly Father wants us to understand each and every day.
The Lord is with me wherever I go.
My dad worked from home while I was in middle school and high school… the era of forgotten homework and lunches. And trust me, I forgot a lot. I would often call my dad to see if he could bring me what I was missing. I think there was one point where I called him four times in one month. Although he was definitely super annoyed, he was always there. Whenever I was sad, I knew my dad would come knocking on the door to cheer me up. It seemed like he always had the right words to say.
When I was little, I was constantly frightened. I’d have horrible nightmares and I would have trouble falling asleep or back to sleep after I had woken up. I remember one night having to read until 3 AM (that’s pretty dang late, especially for an elementary kid) because I was too terrified to sleep. My sister tended to have the same problem, so my dad made us a sheet with about 6 Bible verses on it to put in our bedside table.
One verse read, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God, will be with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1:9). I repeated this verse over and over and over to help me fall asleep. “God is here, God is here, God is here.” Fear has not left my life. It may no longer take place in the idea that a giant snake could crawl through my door… but it’s still there. That verse always sticks with me. I think of a picture of Jesus reading to children and remember that He was there when I was scared of monsters and he is still here. No matter what keeps you up at night or holds you back, Jesus is still holding your hand just like he did when you were a child.
Have compassion always.
My parents are both very kind people. They are open and friendly to everyone. But my dad especially can talk to anyone he meets for extended periods of time (and slightly to the annoyance of us kids when we were ready to leave church after a long Sunday). My dad didn’t care who it was… older lady, young man, child. He loved them all with a heart so big, it was contagious.
Having compassion for people (ALL people) is such an important lesson the Bible tries to teach us. Psalm 103:13 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” Some Christians tend to have compassion for people who are exactly like them. I mean, let’s recall history and the thousands upon thousands of lives that have been lost over different branches of Christianity fighting. But my dad showed me what God really meant… kindness and compassion for everyone.
Build a firm foundation and never stray.
Both of my parents were brought up in church and they made the decision to raise their kids in church as well. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” They both firmly believed this and have spent many, many years (aka their whole life) serving the church and its people.
Church was not an option to walk away from growing up. Not in a bad way… it just was a habit. It’s Sunday? Time to go to church. My parents didn’t necessarily make us go, but they made sure that my siblings and I wanted to be there and were excited about being there… and we were! We still all love being at church and serving to this very day. Because we were raised knowing Jesus and knowing the importance of community, I know we will never stray.
No matter what card life has thrown at you, God is there to be your true Father. He’s known you since the beginning and loved you unconditionally. He is with you through every moment and every season, rooting you on and protecting you from the bad guys. Continue to be in His house and love His people. It doesn’t matter who your earthly father or mother is, because God is always there to fill in the gaps.