Father’s Day

Father Figures

Psalm 103:13-14

“As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.”

Here we are: Fathers’ Day. A day that we often celebrate fathers. We celebrate what they’ve done for us, what they’ve given us, what they’ve taught us, what they’ve sacrificed for us. But then, what about those who have never been fathers? What about those who have been fathers, but who aren’t anymore, either because their children are grown or are no longer with us? And what about those who have never had a father—or at least not a good one? Surely, there are many people out there for whom Fathers’ Day doesn’t feel even a little bit like a celebration. So what about them?

My answer? Father figures. Granted, I’ve been fortunate to have a dad who’s been around all my life. And I’m fortunate to have a husband who is a great dad to our kids. But I’ve also had several father figures during that time. And it’s interesting to think about how God has orchestrated my life and relationships in such a way as to bring these father figures at just the right time to meet a need or fill a gap. I can think of many:

  • If you’ve ever encouraged me to pursue my passions
  • If you’ve ever helped me identify my gifts
  • If you’ve ever made sure I had a job or a place to stay
  • If you’ve ever given me sound and needed advice
  • If you’ve ever surprised me with a thoughtful gesture
  • If you’ve ever loved my kids like they were your own grandkids
  • If you’ve ever called me out during a season of sin
  • If you’ve ever challenged me to love others more deeply, or to forgive

I’m sure I could think of many more, but you get the idea. So, whether you are technically a father or not, if you have done these things for someone, celebrate that today.

If you don’t have an earthly father who is present and active in your life, try to think of some people whom God has placed in your life to fill that void. I think it’s easy to fault the people in our lives for where they fall short. But really, isn’t it a lot to ask that mere humans might be able to fulfill every need that we have? If even the Creator and God of the universe bears with our weaknesses, and remembers that we are dust, maybe we could bear with others as well.

And ultimately, where all of these dusty creatures fail and fall short, God never will. He will supply all of our needs, for He cares for us.

So, whoever you are, Happy Fathers’ Day!

Memories with Daddy

Early this spring, Chris spent a weekend assembling a swing set for the kids. At times, he had Tijge join him and do little things to help—“hold this” or “hand me that.” For days afterward, Tijge would look out the kitchen window at the finished swing set and declare with pride and excitement, “I make the swings with Daddy!” It was just one of the many memories that Tijge has already made with his daddy. They watch train videos together, work in the garden together, clean up the workshop together, read the comics together, and so on. And I know that these are just a few of many more memories I know are still to come.

I think back on the kinds of memories I’ve shared with my own Dad over the years. There were the hikes along the highway when I was little enough to ride in a backpack on his back, while he sang “It’s a Happy Day.” There were the car rides when we would listen to cassette tapes of the Beatles and James Taylor and sing along as “Liberty Valance came to town.” Then there was one eventful car ride when the engine actually caught fire! That was exciting. There was the time when Dad taught me how to use a drill, screwdriver, and level, while installing storage shelves in our basement. There was a time when the pigs got loose on the farm where we lived, and we had to climb up to the top of our swing set and wait until Dad came to rescue us. There was even a time in college when Dad read The Twelve Caesars aloud to me because I couldn’t manage to stay focused on the book—it was incredibly boring, to say the least. Then he officiated and sang at my wedding. And the list could go on and on.

I’m glad to know that my kids will one day be able to share similarly lengthy lists of memories with their dad. I know there are lots of dads out there who are busy making memories with their kids. And good on you for it—as they say Down Under. But I also know there are some fathers who—whether they know better or not—act as though their responsibility to their kids ends at bringing home a paycheck. It’s just not true. Your kids need you.

I recently heard a story told by a woman who had, for a long time, resented her absentee father. Ultimately, she overcame her resentment by identifying ONE good memory that she had shared with him—and it was very touching. But those good memories should be the rule, not the exception. So dads, if you haven’t yet, start making time for those memories. They matter way more than you know. Oh, and for all of the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day! Make it a good one.