I had a good dad growing up. He worked tirelessly to put food on our table, spent time with me and taught me the essentials of life. Considering he didn't have a great example of what a father should be growing up, I am grateful for the effort he put in to make sure he was a good father to me.
Perhaps your father is no longer with you on earth, or perhaps you wish you had a better dad growing up. Whether you are a Christian or not, there is good news: God wants to be your Father! Here are nine lessons from your heavenly father even if you don't have an earthly one:
God is always with you
Although my dad was around on weekends, he could not attend school functions because he was always working. Unlike your earthly dad, who cannot be with you for everything in your life, your heavenly father is with you always.
He is present during the scariest moments, there to comfort you during the down times and rejoices with you in your greatest days. By the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you, God is there to guide, challenge and convict you no matter what you are going through.
You don't have to earn His love
God gave His son not only to cleanse us from our sin, but because of his great love for his children. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life." Christ already paid the penalty for our sin.
His love is free, and He wants us to accept our Father's love, no strings attached.
He provides out of his love for us
In my household, I had to earn everything. Nothing was given to me. My parents believed in instilling a hard work ethic, meaning nothing in the world comes for free.
But in God's view, everything is free. Because of Jesus, there is nothing we can do to earn God's provision. He gives freely, because our father loves to give good gifts to His children. Just because he can.
He makes our paths straight
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6). Whether it was about grades, boys or life, I went to my dad growing up for his advice.
Once I became a Christian, however, I started going to the Lord that is because His wisdom is far more infinite than anything I could have gotten from my dad. Since God is present everywhere, he knows more about my life than I do. He sees things from a perspective I will never have.
Because I lean on the Lord and submit to His will, He gives me wisdom in areas I can't get anywhere else.
His grace is enough
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (1 Corinthians 12:9.)
My dad wanted me to be strong growing up. I sometimes heard, "dry your tears. If you don't stop crying, I'll give you something to cry about." I learned early on that crying was a sign of weakness. It wasn't until I learned about the Lord and started reading the Word that Jesus cried when His friend died. He also mourned for the state of his town because they were unaware of who he truly was or what was about to happen to him. If he didn't see crying as weakness, why should I?
In fact, it is when I feel the weakest emotionally, or physically is when God is the strongest. He loves to be strong in our weakness, because it is then when His grace is most prominent.
He disciplines because he loves us
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son." Hebrews 12:6. It is never easy to receive discipline. Although my father was pretty easygoing, I remember getting my share of discipline from him. In fact, when he disciplined it meant even more because he rarely got mad.
Although when we are sin it is easy for us to hide, we should not be afraid of God's discipline. He disciplines us because of our love for us. Although I didn't understand it as a child, my dad disciplined because he wanted what was best for me. God wants the same for his children.
He'll never turn His love away from us
My dad got mad when I made mistakes or made life decisions he didn't approve of. But God loves me regardless of how many times I mess up: "The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 1:14.) Although my dad's anger taught me that I had to work to earn my earthly Father's love, Scripture is clear there is nothing I can do to change God's mind about how much he loves me. And that's the good news of the gospel worth sharing.
God fights for us even when we don't fight back
Exodus 14:14 days, "The lord will fight for you, you only need to be still." In this verse, the Israelites saw a huge army approach. The army was bigger than anything they could conquer, and their hope in winning the battle grew grim. But the Lord instructs the Israelites to lie still and drop their swords. Because it is when they laid down their weapons was when God could fight for them on their behalf and accomplish the impossible.
While my earthly father wanted me to fight back when an enemy teased me, God wants us to lay down our weapons. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek in response to the enemy-what a radical approach! Yet, when we choose to let God fight for us, he does, and accomplishes the impossible only when we let Him.
God is jealous for our love
Exodus 34:14 says, "Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." All fathers love their kids, and they have a special love for their daughters. However, all dads know kids grow up and eventually their love will shift from their dads to their husbands. Dads expect this and on their wedding day, they give their daughters away-in expectation that she joins a new family and their relationship will change.
God however, never had to let us go. He expects our relationships to deepen-not grow distant. As we grow closer to God, he knows us more intimately, and craves more fellowship from us. Our relationship with God is the opposite of our relationship with our earthly dads. As our dad's relationship shifts, God's never wavers.
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Although our earthly fathers example most often mirrors how we will interact with God, it doesn't have to be. Even if we weren't blessed with the greatest examples of earthly fathers, we can cling to the hope that God seeks to satisfy all of our needs as our true father.
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