A few days ago, I called my dad with the news that I had backed into someone’s car. I was a nervous wreck, so scared of disappointing him or giving the impression that I didn’t care about how much money my stupid mistake would cost him.
To my relief, there was no explosion on the other end of the phone. He seemed upset, of course, but not angry. The conversation soon turned to questions about my week, and by the end of the call we were laughing to the point of tears.
But what most struck me during that call was my dad’s use of the words “I’m proud of you.” Not once, but several times.
This is not just a glimpse into the life I’ve had with my earthly father. It’s an illustration of the relationship I have with my heavenly father.
Those of us who believe in God can usually agree on the idea that he loves his creation. He loves each individual, knows each individual and wants good for each individual.
But do we really believe that?
All too often, Christians fall into the trap of feeling like they’ll never please God. They’ll never be good enough for a perfect father who sees every mistake. And while there is truth in the impossibility of ever being “good enough” for God, there is nothing to say that he doesn’t enjoy his children in the same way that my dad enjoys me.
In fact, there is plenty of Biblical evidence illustrating God’s fatherly love. Zephaniah 3:17 says God “will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Psalm 86:15 says “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
1 John 3:1 says “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
So why, even with the knowledge of God’s great love and forgiveness, can Christians not make the connection between the relationship of an earthly father and a heavenly father?
A sad truth is that not everyone has a clear example of a loving dad. My own father was such a gift that it’s easy for me to understand what it means to be loved unconditionally. And even fathers who do care deeply for their children may not show it in the way that my dad does.
There are fathers who leave, who are abusive and who are negligent. Many of my friends have little self-confidence, a trait that they can openly attribute to a lack of attention or affirmation from their parents.
To those who have poor relationships with their fathers, I can only say that the God of the Bible provides a love that is exponentially greater than even the sweetest love of an earthly father.
For me, it’s hard to even wrap my mind around something greater. But this passage from Luke 11 beautifully explains the nature of God:
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
My dad was always there to take care of my every need and shower me with love and affection. That includes times when I was being a spoiled brat, times I would forget my lunch at home over and over again, and times in middle school when I thought everything he said was wrong.
I’m thankful to have a dad who was there to be my best friend. I’m thankful to have a dad who cared enough to discipline me, even though he hated it as much as I did. Most importantly, I’m thankful to have a dad who gave me a glimpse of the depth of God’s love.
Thrall is a sophomore majoring in journalism and film.