What comes to mind when I hear these words… Father, Dad, Papa?
Images flash in my mind, memories come to life, and emotions swell in my heart. Some of those thoughts and emotions are warm and positive, and some are not. For many of us the memories and connections with our father – or the lack of them – have made a deep impact on how we relate to others.
On the positive side, I can remember fun times with my dad – like the times we went camping, fishing, or just playing catch in the front yard. I treasure these memories and they helped to form the image in my mind of a close relationship with a man who was older, wiser, and a good friend to me.
I also have some memories and experiences with my dad that detracted from that strong and secure image. When my biological dad left my family when I was only five years old, I felt the absence deeply. It took many years to heal that wound and the care and provision of my step-father gave me a new foundation on which to build. Although not perfect, he loved us well.
As Father’s Day approaches, I am reminded of the special relationship that fatherhood encompasses. Having now raised two daughters, I know how difficult it is to be in the role of father. There’s so much I wanted to do for my girls and my imperfect attempts to help them mature often fell short. All fathers are failures in many ways and to different degrees… all except one.
God is the only perfect Father. He never ceases to love, and His love is expressed by his constant care, patience, and mercy toward us. He’ll never forsake his children, fail to provide for them, or disappoint them by a faulty character.
His love for me was most clearly expressed in His invitation to be adopted into his family – much like my earthly stepfather did for me over 40 years ago. Simple faith in Christ was the only requirement for this eternal adoption, and even that faith was a gift from Him.
“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” – from Ephesians 1:5 in the New Living Translation of the Bible.