The Blessing of Our Fathers

father and child

Father’s Day in the US is a celebration of the role of fathers in our lives. It’s a chance to reflect on our own fathers, giving thanks for what has been good and seeking to understand and forgive what may not have been.

My own dad died in November of 1990. I was blessed to be at his bedside as he crossed the threshold between life and death. He was a man who loved God, and his passing was peaceful, even beautiful in its own way, despite the tears because there would be a dad-shaped hole in my heart.

It doesn’t seem like a quarter of a century since the last time he drove up our road, the last time he told me a joke, the last time he called me Sweetie.

He was a wonderful dad. He taught me so many things: how to ride a bike, how to use hand tools, how to fly fish.

More importantly, he taught me about honesty, responsibility, and faithfulness. He taught me about making choices and how those can have consequences far beyond the moment I make the choice.

Dad taught me about the importance of keeping God as the reference point for making life’s choices.

When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he gave them what we now call the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13). Let’s focus on the first words: “Our Father.”

What does it mean to call God our father? We are the children of the Christian family, not by natural birth, but by adoption. The Gospel of John tells us what God requires of us if we want to be His child:

But to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13, ESV)

Our choice to believe in Jesus opens the door to approaching God as our father. But not just as Father, a name that seems so formal. We can approach him as Abba, well translated by the name many of us used for our father when we were little: Daddy.

As the apostle Paul tells us in his letters to the Romans and the Galatians:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15, ESV)

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6 ESV)

I love that thought. God is not just my creator. He isn’t even just my father, the one in authority over me. He’s my dad, and He loves me beyond measure, even more than my wonderful earthy dad ever could.

What does it mean to you that God has embraced you as his child and you can call Him dad?