One of the saddest things about life is to realize how many people have had a very sorry father. In ministering to college students over the years, we have have pretty much heard and seen it all when it comes to what kids have been through with their dads. Outright abandonment, horrific abuse of every kind, betrayal, deception, manipulation, even fathers who take out lines of credit in their child’s name and rack up many thousands in debt - all of this and so much more. Really, it is worse than you might believe, unless you had a father like that also.
This is truly heart-breaking, and so many people start off their own walk into adulthood with a terribly skewed idea of what a father is supposed to do and be. It is hard for so many to understand the truth that God Himself is a generous, loving Father when their own earthly representation was so horribly selfish. It is always an honor and a joy to help someone know God and find forgiveness and healing towards their physical father. It is a beautiful thing to watch a person come to know that they are truly wanted and loved and cherished by their Heavenly Father. And there is so much hope to realize that, with the strong foundation of Jesus in their lives, the children of such rotten fathers can actually be incredible parents themselves - we have seen it happen many hundreds of times now.
In celebrating our fathers yesterday, I was struck by what wonderful men I have in my life. Every man at our family gathering is an excellent father; my awesome husband, my son-in-law, my brothers-in-law - all are steady, faithful, strong and lovingly devoted fathers to their children. Please allow me to take a moment to share with you the beautiful gift of God I have in my own father and father-in-law.
My father is a rare breed. As a child, he had a real encounter with God, realizing that it was vital to surrender his heart and life to the Lordship of God. He had full understanding at a young age that his best life would come, not in living for himself and his own whims, but in trusting God, loving and serving his family and community, and being a man of his word. Even without an example like that in his own life, my father decided to live a godly life and he has done just that.
I only have wonderful memories of my parents in my childhood. My father has always been so loving and encouraging to my sister and myself - he read to us, cheered for us at all of our sports and school events, and has been so generous in every way with his time and earthly goods. He has encouraged us in every one of our dreams and endeavors. And has told us we were beautiful all of our lives, even when we were awkward pre-teenagers or when we were 9 months pregnant and bloated, and he means it every time.
I have never heard my father say anything remotely negative to or about my mother - to this day he treats her as the sweetheart she has been to him for over 60 years. I am certain that there has never been a meal I have eaten in his presence where he did not wait for all of us ladies to be seated before he took his own seat. He has been a loving and devoted grandfather to our kids, showering them with love and encouragement - and math tutoring!
All of that has been inside our family, but his reach into the community has also been tremendous. He is a faithful and reliable churchman, and a key part of the volunteer base in every community he has ever lived in. He constantly gives his time and expertise to help others. All of us have a high standard of love, service and fidelity because of his life. It is not at all hard for me to understand how good and loving God the Father is because I have seen a beautiful, godly example in my dad.
I know that I am so blessed to be able to say that my father-in-law is wonderful, as well. As a very young man, he accepted the responsibility for a wife and her two young boys, loving and treating them as his own. More than that, he proved his committment to them by giving the boys his name. I have known him since I was 17 years old, and he has always treated me with kindness and encouragement. I have never once felt like an outsider in their home - they have welcomed me and treated me as a daughter. Watching him love and cherish his granddaughters has always been a delight - he really thinks they each hung the moon and they all know that they are treasured.
I take the time to sing the praises of these two men because they have been such excellent fathers - I am so grateful for the gift their influence and steady example is to our family. How different the world would be if there were more men like them! All of us can benefit from following such examples of selfless and encouraging love. Today, let’s touch our own families, communities and the world with the great love of the Father.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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