Father's Day has had mixed feelings for me for the last many years. I've struggled with knowing how to honor my dad while being extremely angry at my parents divorce. Not having children ourselves has kept me from focusing on any other than my own Dad.
This year God has worked on my heart. My fabulous Bible Study group and I have been going through Experiencing God, and recently have been discussing the love relationship with our Heavenly Father. I have discovered that this is not necessarily an easy concept to grasp. I had no idea. I didn't quite realize that having an earthly father who was hard, abusive, or mean could have such implications on our adult perceptions of God as our Father. I discovered that fear is a major component of many people's obedience to God, because that is what they learned from their earthly fathers.
My dad was not like that with me. Don't get me wrong, I have an enormous dad who stands 6'3" tall and to a child, that is giant. He isn't large on the width factor, but being a farmer, he was (and is) plenty strong. In fact, I think my dad is one of the strongest men I've ever known. Anyway, he was a formidable force when I disobeyed, and he was our ultimate threat when we were kids: "Oh yeah? Well, I'll go tell Dad!" And yet, I have many memories of having him come up to bed and read us our bedtime Bible stories, teaching us how to pray, slathering Vicks Vapor-rub on our ticklish necks if we were sick, and being our bucking bronco until we were faint with giggles. I remember being unafraid to ask him hard spiritual questions even very young, and he never made me feel like I was silly as he tried to lead me to find answers.
My dad taught me what a love relationship with my Father could look like, if only in a human glimpse. Dad is not a perfect example, but he showed me how a father can be loving and demand obedience all at the same time. I feared my discipline when I disobeyed, but I never feared my dad. I knew he loved me. I have easily come to understand what a love relationship with my Father can be because of my dad's love for me. This is not a small gift. This is what every dad is responsible for in their children. That is a huge responsibility. It won't be done perfectly, but it can be done to our human extent!
I'm so thankful this Father's Day that I have a Dad who showed me a portion of God's love.