Fatherhood is a difficult subject for me…
PLYMOUTH – As I reflect on the fatherhood experiences in my life, I see how each moment has shaped my view of our Heavenly Father.
My own Father was diagnosed with brain cancer when I was 10 and given two months to live. I watched him deteriorate over the next two years until, finally, he went to be with Jesus. Although I only knew my dad for 12 years, each day I saw him live his life to glorify God. He did this not only in the way he interacted with people but also in the way he disciplined my brothers and me. He held us to a high standard and did his best to set us up for success as Jesus followers.
The last two years of his life, I watched him waste away, unable to eat solid food. Yet, every day he fed himself on the Scriptures. His actions showed me just how precious the Word of God really is. He taught me how to love Jesus and trust him no matter the circumstances.
Our Heavenly Father also delights in Jesus, his Son, and he delights in us as well. Yet, he is not afraid to discipline us. He does this with the end in mind, to grow us and shape us to look more and more like his Son. I desire to be a father who guides and instructs his children, steering them to Jesus and to the truth found in His Word.
I had my first father-in-law in my life for about ten years as well. He is a brilliant man, the smartest I have ever met. He has even read the dictionary for fun… twice. He showed wisdom and knowledge in everything he did. It wasn’t uncommon for us to have conversations that left my head spinning for days. Sadly, our relationship ended when his daughter and I were divorced.
The Heavenly Father’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways. It’s okay when we lack the understanding. Most times we just need to know who He is and trust that He is working everything for our good. I want to show my son that it’s okay to not always understand everything. We serve a big God who is trustworthy and can be taken at His Word.
God was gracious to me and gave me a new father-in-law to fill my fatherless gap. My wife’s dad is the most selfless person I have ever met. He is kind and caring, willing to do anything for anyone at any time. He has taught me so much in the brief time I’ve had with him. Each day he shows me how to have a servant’s heart as I care for my family and each person I meet.
Our God is no different! He is a merciful and gracious father, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He is a servant to the weak, reaching to out a hand to all those who need it. I desire to be a father who is humble and patient, willing to serve my kids selflessly with unconditional love.
My own experience as a father was the briefest of all. I was only given two seven-week
periods until we had the miscarriages. I deeply miss those two babies and grieve the time I never got with them. After the first, I was terrified that it would happen again. So, when we got pregnant the second time, I didn’t dare hope. I didn’t dare celebrate and I regret that. That precious child deserved to be celebrated no matter how long he was with us.
In the last year God has given me an incredible gift. And this gift calls me “Dada”. Just over a year ago, a 21-month-old foster child came into our home. About three months into his stay with us, he uttered that life changing word, “Dada”. I never knew how sweet a word could sound until I heard it from those little lips.
Only our Heavenly Dada knows how long I will hear those words from him. The Father knows just how long each of us have. And he is watching us and he is cheering us on! He is delighting in every move we make toward Jesus, no matter how small (Zechariah 4:10). These three babies have taught me to find joy in every moment, no matter how small. Each one is precious and deserves to be celebrated. They remind me to enjoy every hug, every kiss, every giggle, every “nigh nigh”, and every “Dada”.
Fatherhood is a difficult subject for me, and it may be for you as well. Even so there is good news. No matter what happened with your biological father or your father-in-law or even your own kids, you have a Father right here reaching down to pick you up and hold you tight.
Just as we desire relationship with our children, he desires relationship with you. He wanted you in his family so much that he sent his own beloved Son to live, die, and rise so that you could become a child of His. He chose you and he wants to guide you, to shape you, to celebrate you, and to protect you. He has invited you into his family and now is the time for introductions. You don’t want to miss knowing this Dada.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Carty recently won the 2022 Best Darn Ministry Assistant Award for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (voted on by himself). He loves Superman, pizza, and our adoption into the family of God. But his greatest earthly love is his amazing wife, Claire! She brightens his whole life. He is currently pursuing his MDIV in Missiology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Stay tuned to see what God does in their life.