Words evoke instant emotions. The power of just one word can send your mind racing. Let me give you a few specific words that perhaps prove my point: Winner. Funeral. Diamond. Divorce. Each of these words can spark strong feelings. Perhaps when you hear the word diamond you think of the day your spouse got down on one knee and proposed or if you hear the word funeral, maybe you are reminded of a loved one passing away, left with a coffin as a rather cemented memory. Now, consider this word…Father. This six letter word can arouse a number of emotional responses based upon your own human experiences with your father. Therefore, as we approach a special day that proclaims these three powerful words, “Happy Father’s Day” let us decipher how these words not only shape our experience with our natural father, but also how this phrase impacts how we see and approach our Heavenly Father.
I am blessed. I have a father who can remain positive in any situation. He is a “glass full,” “life is wonderful,” and a “you can conquer the world” type of dad. If it wasn’t for his exterior, you could swear that pom-poms were glued to his hands. Additionally, I am also blessed to have a father-in-law that truly believes that my husband and I are capable of doing anything we set our minds to. And, if that wasn’t enough, I have a step-father who understands the value of humor and if I need a ‘pick me up,’ he is the first person I would call. Truly, I am blessed with great fathers who know how to uplift my soul. Now, while none of these men are perfect, they provide me a lens from which to imagine a perfect God. How? I can easily wrap my mind around the concept of love. I understand that compassion and love are a part of God’s heart because I have these three examples here on earth. However, I recognize that everyone has a different life experience with their natural father and unfortunately our experiences will never begin to explain how amazing our Heavenly Father is. At best, our fathers help us see God as love; at worst, our natural fathers can actually hinder us from seeing the truth of the Father’s heart. My hope for all of you is that you have stories like I have, ones filled with dads who love deeply and provide faithfully. However, as we live in an extremely broken world and I know that the world “dad’ can cause a deep wound in those of you who have experienced a cruel father. If you are reading this and images of pain are flashing across your mind, I want to encourage you to see past the natural realm when you hear this important word: Father. The enemy would love to lie to you and use your less-than-perfect, or maybe even traumatic experience with this word to distort what the Heavenly Father feels for you.
I want to share a verse with you that helps to explain just how much God loves you. But, before I do, let’s look at the history of His character. He created us to be in relationship with us and then when we failed Him, He created a way back because the idea of losing us broke His heart. How? He sent His Son, the ultimate painful experience, to provide a way back to His heart. Wouldn’t you agree that all evidence points to a loving Father? Throughout our disobedient history, everything has been about drawing us closer to Him, never away. If God never did another good thing for us to show us His love, He still would be the epitome of a great Father. However, in Matthew 7:11 we read this beautiful Scripture,
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)
I believe that the writer, Matthew, understood that we would all try to use our humanity to imagine what God is like and how He feels toward us. Matthew, an eye-whiteness of Jesus (the Son), knew that seeing Jesus was a direct reflection of who God is – therefore, clearly Matthew makes for a reliable source on the heart of God. In chapter seven, he shares with us this truth: God wants to give us what we need. God wants us to be unafraid to come before Him and present our requests. And, God wants to bless us. God’s blessings are not like the world sees ‘blessings,’ but His blessings are unmatched for an eternity, not just a fleeting moment. Matthew affirms that earthly fathers, even at their best, are imperfect. Yet, God is a giver of all things good. He is rooting for us, like my dad with metaphorical pom-poms, He wants us to live a life worthy of our calling because He sees us as “very good” – which he spoke at the beginning of creation.
We give cards and gifts to our fathers on Father’s Day to celebrate their role as our dad. However, this upcoming holiday let us remember how good God is. He wants to give us good things because He loves us. God did not call us merely His creation, but His children. Therefore, regardless of what emotion is evoked when you hear the word father, I hope that you can remember what Matthew reminds us all of when he speaks about God the Father – the giver of good gifts. So, Happy Father’s Day to all of you, may you reflect the Father’s heart – celebrating your earthly father while worshiping your Abba Father this wonderful Sunday!