“Father to the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.” ~ Psalm 68:5
I spend a lot of time talking about the important role of a mother; they have a tough but vital job in the lives of their children. That’s true. Motherhood is noble and impossible and miraculous. But fatherhood, sometimes treated as a secondary role, is just as important. Even if mom takes care of the more immediate and visible needs, like feeding and bathing and teaching them to stop licking things, a dad also instills things that have deep and lifelong value. I think the things passed from father to child often get ignored because they are part of a bigger picture so are harder to pinpoint, but the void left by their absence has lifelong consequences.
I have been contemplating the role of a father a lot lately, and not just because Father’s Day is coming up. It started one evening last week when my husband, a wonderful father to my own children, wasn’t home to have supper with us. It was ok, though, because he was doing something we both believed was important.
There is a young man on his staff that wants to get his driver’s license, so my husband was missing supper in order to take him out driving for practice. His own dad isn’t here, and my husband is often in a position to step in and support guys who don’t have a role model around, helping them to reach their potential. We know we are so blessed to have him, so we don’t mind sharing him with others so they can be blessed by his heart as well.
As I was waiting for him to arrive home that night, a verse popped into my head about God being a Father to the fatherless. I thanked Him for sometimes using my husband for that purpose. And I got to thinking about all the reasons having a father is important. I thought about the support and guidance and leadership a dad provides. But it has to be so much more than that, or God wouldn’t have addressed the need to fill in for the fatherless so many times in His word.
I remember a childhood friend once telling me that while she admired my faith in God and believed there must be some sort of Creator, she just couldn’t grasp a God who loved her like a father, because she had never experienced anything close to love from her own father. That one person missing in her life made so many other things more difficult for her. Most importantly, it made it too hard to imagine that the God of everything could love her.
I was blessed to have a dad who was pretty ideal, as far as the role of father goes. I am actually still very close to my dad. We even work in the same building now, and our parking spots are right beside each other. It’s great getting to see him so often.
A couple of days after my husband’s driving lesson and my deep thoughts on the importance of a father, I drove to work to find my dad had taken my parking spot. He had never done that before, but I had to smile. It had rained the night before, and when it rains my spot floods causing me to have to walk through ankle-deep, muddy water to get from my car to the building. He had arrived before me that morning, and he parked there so that I wouldn’t have to walk through the mud and water.
When I ran into him later that day, he immediately apologized for taking my spot and began to explain why he did it. I had to laugh (He felt the need to apologize?) as I stopped him and said I already knew why.
It hit me; I already knew why. There was not one heartbeat of one moment that I ever doubted that his actions were because he loved me. I have never doubted it. He was the kind of dad who loved unconditionally and in all circumstances, and I always trusted that completely.
Yes, my father gave me important guidance and support growing up. But he also gave me an even greater gift. Because of him, I have a stronger faith than I would have had otherwise. Because he loved me unconditionally, it’s easy for me to grasp that I have a heavenly Father who also loves me unconditionally. Because I grew up seeing that everything my dad did was out of his love for me, it’s no great stretch to assume that whatever my heavenly Father does is also out of love for me, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
A good father is a gift from above. He not only gives his children guidance for this life, but he can also help them understand that they are loved in their imperfect, sinful state by an even greater Father. While a good biological father isn’t a possibility for everyone, God promises in His word many times that He can still provide the benefits of that important relationship. Receive it however God provides, and be ready to be a ‘father’ figure to someone who needs a dad. The ability to receive the love God has for us comes so much easier when someone on earth has already modeled it for us.
Thank you to all the dads out there who are busy loving their families to the best of their ability, and to all the men stepping in as dads to the fatherless. Please don’t ever underestimate the time you spend teaching a young person to change their oil, play catch, build a bookshelf, or fillet a fish. You could be building something deeper into them, both your own children and the ones God brings for you to father. It’s a vital, noble, even a miraculous calling.
Teach Your Children Well…