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“…and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?…But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:26, 30-33). 

God, some have said, is wholly “other.” We know, by definition, God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. When we attempt to ruminate on His greatness we can feel infinitely small (and we are) and seemingly insignificant (but we aren’t). He can’t be totally and accurately defined but we describe Him as glorious, sovereign, transcendent, majestic, incomprehensible, and almighty, among many other lofty adjectives. And God is all of this and more!  But it is one particular aspect of this “more” that I’d like to drill down on: God is also personal. He is our perfect Father! 

All of our physical fathers are imperfect, many are disengaged, and some are downright negligent and mean. And because of this we live in a world of hurting people whose view of God as Father has been skewed by their experience with their earthly fathers. We tend to assign to God the same character and personality traits of our human fathers. If our dad was absent then we think God is also. If our earthly father was angry, God is seen as a condemning and hostile (and He can be to those who aren’t His own). If dad was loving, we project the Creator as kind and beneficent (and He is). Generous, then generous. Cruel, then cruel. Distant, then distant…and so forth. Praise God, I can say nothing negative about my Christ-like earthly father but, given the dysfunctional and disintegrating nature of the contemporary Western family, many don’t feel this way. It’s no wonder that the idea of God is unappealing and many have been prompted to avoid, rebel against, or reject such a notion.  

But we have good news! For all whose view of God is tainted by your physical father’s failures, please know God can be very personal, even more intimate than our own family. He has initiated a familial relationship with us that is most amazing. God can be, as Jesus often said, “your Father.” Yes, most recognize that the Scripture portrays Jesus as the Son of God but what about us? Are we too unlovely and insignificant, given the way we may have been treated by our own fathers, for the ruler of the universe to be that perfect Father to us, to love us in a way that reminds us of the way He loves Jesus? Could the Almighty claim us as His own children? Despite what we may feel, the fact is that God’s Word says He can and does. Again, what great news! 

As a matter of fact, we can be adopted into God’s family, become one of His children, share in Christ’s inheritance, and be glorified with Jesus, the very son of God! As you read the words of Paul, notice the terms of endearment “Daddy,” “children,” heirs,” and “son.” And don’t overlook the promises and provisions made to those that experience God’s adoption and familial affection: 

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “[Daddy]! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:15-17). 

So what’s the catch? For us to experience this glorious reality we must do 2 things – receive (turn from ourselves and our ways and turn to Him) and believe in (put our total trust in) the person and work of Christ. As the Apostle John said, “But to all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).  

Do you feel disappointed and disenfranchised with your earthy family? As scarring and sad as that is, God says you can join His eternal family. You can call Him “Daddy.” You can become joint heirs with Jesus. You can personally know a Heavenly patriarch who will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). You can find comfort and security in an incomprehensibly loving Father who will receive you back with seeking arms, an embrace, and a sumptuous feast when you return to Him from your wanderings (Luke 15:11-24). You can find in Him a love that is eternal and filled with hope (Romans 8:31-39). 

So my plea is simple: Despite the tragedy of families that fail us, don’t let that keep you from your perfect Heavenly Father. The God of the universe beckons you to call Him “Daddy” and receive His unequaled paternal provision. Receive and believe in Jesus and be “born again” into the family of the Father of the heavenly lights, “from whom every good and perfect gift is [received and] who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17, NIV).

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*This is an annual post is in memory of my father. He entered into eternal worship and rest with his Savior on September 4, 2006 (appropriately on Labor Day). Today whould have been his 91st birthday. This is an excerpt from “Captivated by Christ: Focusing on Him” which was published in 2008.

Nearly a year and a half after my father’s death, my mother sent me his one volume Bible commentary. Thankfully, she left it as he did: she didn’t even remove the papers he had slid between the binder and the text. It was The Liberty Commentary, a book published by the school from which I received my Master’s degree. The book’s significance, however, was neither in that fact nor in the helpful Bible background information it contained. The most impressive thing about the commentary was my father’s hand-written notes that adorned nearly all of the book’s two-thousand seven hundred pages. The book had well served Dad, a faithful Sunday School teacher, for many years. 

Next to my own Bible,  the picture of my son at 15 minutes old, and my wedding album, I consider Dad’s commentary my greatest earthly possession. My father left within it musings, highlights, underscores, outlines, and his own personal comments. The book is heavy with the authentic faith of a man who did life the right way: by the Bible he so honored with his study. To Dad, Scripture’s precepts were principles to apply to every aspect of life. 

Dad’s commentary is a tangible reminder of God’s grace in my life. I’ve often said that I thank God for giving me the Christian family that I myself would not have had the sense to choose. In our culture it’s quite popular to make our parents scapegoats for all of our issues and bad behavior, but I claim the opposite in my situation. My folks are one of God’s greatest gifts to me. 

Because my dad loved me so much―as evidenced by his life of sacrifices for all his children—I’m sure there are a few tear stains on the pages of his book. As he sought refuge in God’s words of hope and comfort, I’m sure he cried for rebellious me on more than one occasion. (In retrospect, I hope that he knew my rebellion was never a reflection on his parenting.) Dad parented as one should: God’s commands were at the center of all he did. I, however, was trying to escape a loving heavenly Father’s care. Thankfully both my heavenly Father and my earthly one continued to love me and give me support in spite of myself. Gloriously, they both saw me come home. 

I’m so thankful Dad modeled Christ in his spoken words and written ones, but the testimony he lived out daily proved even more significant in winning me to the Lord. You see, Dad’s most insightful and valuable commentary was written outside the bound pages I can hold in my hands. As much as his writings mean to me, the reality of his life leaves the greatest impact on my heart. Dad’s example spoke volumes. To me he was a real hero, one who applied the admonition of Second Timothy 2:15: “Present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  I’ve decided that it was the reality of Dad’s life that most molded me. His commentary serves as a sweet reminder of why I so frequently thank God for him and Mother. 

One of the last things I heard Dad say followed my mother’s adoring words to him, “You are an angel!” He responded immediately: “Yes, I just haven’t gotten my wings yet.” Though Scripture is clear humans don’t transform into angels when they pass (see 1 Corinthians 15:35-50), it does support the sentiment Dad was trying to convey. Those who give their lives to Christ can live as blessings to all they know. Only in heaven, however, do they find glorious and eternal reward for their service to the Master. 

I love you, Dad. See you soon!

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