Who is the best dad you can think of? The Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.)? Is it Clark Griswold from the National Lampoon series? Or Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird? Daddy Warbucks from Annie? Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof? King Triton from The Little Mermaid? Or maybe Darth Vader from the Star Wars series? The list goes on and on of the “great” fathers we could gather from movies and literature. Yes, some could be considered “great” only by the fact that they are known to father the virtuous hero, and announce the line that shocks viewers, creating one of the greatest plot twists in all of cinema (cough, cough…Vader). But nonetheless, a person could go deep down the rabbit hole when looking for visual reflections of a “great” father.
In the search for the G.O.A.T. of fathers, some will claim that their own dad sets the bar. “My dad is the best!” is something I’m sure many of you can say. A lot of people can say they have a dad who is always there. A dad who has worked tirelessly to support his family. A dad who taught his kids how to throw a football or was present at every dance recital. A dad who is so cool because he knows how to do a backflip off the deck into the lake…although, he probably can’t do much else the rest of vacation because he twinged his back. These dads are awesome! They should be celebrated and loved on so much this Father’s Day! Thank you, dads!
Like me, some of you may have a more complicated paternal relationship. Some of you have a dad who was really tough on you, didn’t pay much attention to you, or abused you. Others never had a dad. Those who had a dad who fell short of what a “great” father should be may have a hard time celebrating their father on Father’s Day, or a hard time warming to the idea of God as our Father. Michael Reeves writes in Delighting in the Trinity,
One’s heart goes out to the children of such fathers, and those of us who are fathers ourselves know that we too are far from perfect. But God the Father is not called Father because he copies earthly fathers. He is not some pumped-up version of your dad. To transfer the failings of earthly fathers to him is, quite simply, a misstep. Instead, things are the other way around: it is that all human fathers are supposed to reflect him–only where some do that well, others do a better job of reflecting the devil. 1
God the Father is perfectly our Father...the absolute G.O.A.T.! As the Father, God will never disappoint, never leave, never ignore, never abuse, never let us down. God the Father has always been the Father, even before Creation. At Creation He breathed life out into the world, fulfilling the fundamental part of being a Father: a life-giver. Life-giving comes from the overflowing love that God is. Love is not something that God has, such as an attribute or a mood, but what God the Father is. God the Father is love, has always been love, and always will be love. 1 John 4:7-10 says,
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Through that love, that is God the Father, we are created, we are known, and we are inheritors of the kingdom of God the Father.
If your father is lacking or you don’t have a father to celebrate this Father’s Day, praise God that God the Father will always be perfect as your Father. Also, in that God is love, He is the love that overflows and pours out of you as you extend grace and forgiveness for your earthly father. I I sometimes struggle with how to pray for my earthly father, and how to pray for my lack of grace and forgiveness for the hurt from that relationship. In Matthew 6:9-13, Christ instructed His disciples on how to pray in any season:
“Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
I encourage you to pray through each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, starting with “Our Father”. Take that section and spend time thanking God for being the perfect and forever Father. Thank Him for being a perfect example for earthly dads on how to love, discipline, encourage, provide for, and nurture their children. Thank you to all the dads out there who are doing their best to reflect God the Father! Happy Father’s Day!
1. Reeves, Michael. Delighting in the Trinity. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2012.