I’ve always enjoyed learning about God and His character through the names given to Him in Scripture: El Shaddai—The Lord Almighty; Jehovah-Raah—The Lord My Shephard; Jehovah Shalom—The Lord of Peace; Jehovah Rapha—The Lord That Heals. But the name I resonate with the most, the name I use when talking to God and reflecting on His role in my daily life, is Abba. Daddy. Heavenly Father.
Scripture reveals God to be an ideal Father: He is patient and slow to anger, compassionate, nurturing, and understanding. He is a wise counselor who gently instructs us and leads us along paths of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. God the Father wants the best for His children; He is forgiving and abounding in grace, but isn’t afraid to discipline us or allow us to learn from the consequences of our behavior. Our Heavenly Father delights in His children, longs to spend time with us, cares about our hearts’ desires and our deepest secrets, and wants us to know Him as well. He is everything we could ever hope for in a Father, and so much more.
Sadly, many Christians struggle to identify with God as Father because of fractured relationships with their earthly dads. Abandoned, abused, or hopelessly let down by the father figures in their lives, they cannot reconcile the term “Father” with someone who is loving, present, and dependable. They distance themselves from the notion of God as their Heavenly Father and sometimes from God Himself.
Thankfully, I have none of these stumbling blocks. Though he isn’t perfect, my own dad has always done his best to model attributes of our Father in Heaven. Our family never had any doubt that we were his top priority—work, friends, and hobbies were all peripheral to him, and he would drop everything to spend time with us. Dad took interest in the things that interested me, he came up with fun outings and activities for us to enjoy together, and he was always there to listen to my adolescent venting or offer a shoulder to cry on. Dad was patient, thoughtful, and considerate. Most of all, my dad was an incredible teacher: every book, show, movie, conversation, or life circumstance was an opportunity for instruction, and he taught me to look for God all around me and to turn to Him with every question or concern.
I am now blessed to be married to a man who is an equally good father to our son (and I know will be an incredible dad to our future children as well). Few things bring me more joy than watching Charleston giggle on the floor with his dad, wrestling or piecing together Legos or telling silly jokes. Luke engages Charleston’s questions, teaches him all the science-y things that I don’t understand, and shows him how to use tools, fix broken items, and work in the yard. Luke has the patience of a saint, the protectiveness of a mother bear, and the tender heart of the greatest servant leader. Luke had little experience with children prior to becoming a father, and he regularly blows me away with how naturally fatherhood has come to him. Like my own dad, Luke is modeling for Charleston the qualities we know to be true about our Father in Heaven.
These two men—my father, and the father of my children—are the most important dads in my own life, but I know they are not alone in the Good Dad department. Our extended family and church circles are filled with amazing fathers who work hard to support their families while acting as attentive, compassionate dads when they’re home.
Unfortunately, these excellent father figures are underrepresented in pop culture and in media, which tends to highlight absentee fathers, workaholics, and buffoons. I feel grateful that very few of the dads I know personally fall into these categories; most are loving, dedicated fathers who deserve nothing but honor and recognition for the vital roles they play in their families.
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Like its feminine counterpart, Father’s Day can be a fraught holiday. For those who have lost a father or whose father was not a good man; for those who never had a father figure in their lives; for men who have biological children but have never been given the opportunity to be a Dad . . . these are just some of the individuals who feel than less than celebratory each June when Father’s Day rolls around. Thankfully, we all have a Heavenly Father who heals these father wounds and redeems these negative fatherhood connotations.
To all of the amazing dads out there, I wish you the happiest Father’s Day. Thank you for all that you do! And for all of us, regardless of our earthly “dad stories,” let’s take a moment this Father’s Day to thank our Lord for being the most awesome of daddies. We, His children, are truly blessed to be a part of His family.