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It needs to be said that a father is not just a mother with whiskers. Rather, in addition to all the parallel responsibilities, there’s actually a lot more pressure on being a father than being a mother. Granted we miss the child-birthing experiences, from visits to the obstetrician to morning sickness to 20-hour labor, epidurals, Cesarean sections, and stretch marks. But I fully appreciate all of this, even to the point of feeling faint just musing about it.

The ultimate pressure arrives, though, from the fact that a father is used as an analogy of God, who is our Father in heaven. To me, that’s unfair pressure! How can any earthly father live and love even as a shadow of that most amazing love God has toward us, His children?

It’s said that fatherhood isn’t for everyone (particularly if you’re a woman), and there are certainly some guys who just shouldn’t be fathers, such as those who can’t tell a b(D)ad joke well, a mandatory requirement of being a father. On the more tragic side, there are fathers who abuse their children, ranging from horrific physical and emotional abuse down to the simple but hurtful act of being disinterested.

For many, their mother may have been far more loving than their father. So, perhaps, in that case, an analogy of God being a loving mother in heaven actually portrays God better—but still, women can be unloving mothers.

If every son or daughter could have had a loving father (or mother), then the world’s picture of God could have benefited immensely. In spite of all of this, I think there’s a more powerful understanding of God as “our Father” when we men personally have the chance to live the role of a loving father to our offspring. This takes the meaning and comprehension of how loving God is to a far greater level.

As a loving parent, think of this: How much do you love your child? It doesn’t matter whether you’re met with tantrums, arguing, whining, disobedience, backtalk, lying, and sometimes just plain inattentive silliness—at the end of the day, you still love your child dearly. You melt as he or she calls out, “I love you” in response to your declaration of love for them.

Sometimes you may want to spoil them with gifts, but you know that might hurt their character, or you might even have to let hard times happen, because if you don’t, that, too, might inhibit their character development. So, sometimes, the love you give is not in the form of giving something but of taking something away. But the ultimate goal is always their well-being because you love them.

Think about what you’d do for their ultimate happiness, despite their sometimes foolish actions. You’d likely even give your life for them. Well, this is how the God of the universe feels about you, and more: God loves you no matter the misbehavior you’ve fallen into. Of course, there’s not an inkling of abuse in God’s character, not a hint of disinterest, and not a teaspoon of sourness. Just a 100-percent loving Father.

As a parent or imaginary parent, think about how much love you put toward your children and what you’d do for them. Then flip that thought and contemplate that all that love—and infinitely more—is how God feels toward you. 

Hey, Dad, I Love You

by Scott Wegener
From the September 2017 Signs