“The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love.” (Numbers 14:18a NLT)
Since my father’s birthday falls on Father’s Day this year, I’m doubly remembering my dad, who has been gone now for 37 years.
When I was a child, my dad was my hero. We formed an early bond when I was a baby. My dad was ready to be a father and had a natural way with me, as he rocked me and carried me around on my sleepless nights as a newborn.
Even before I was two, my dad and I had a close relationship. When my father wanted me to understand something important, he taught me words to learn and copy. One time, he wanted me to understand that on Saturday, we were going out in the newly-acquired little Austin car, to buy flowers for Mama’s birthday. He drilled me in the following sequence: Auto… [said the Czech way – ow-toe] Mama… Tata… Ali. I mastered the sequence, and my dad was pleased. He could communicate with me, and on Saturday, off we went to the market on our first “date”.
There was a fly in the ointment, however. I didn’t learn everything so easily. To me, numbers weren’t as friendly as letters and words. Learning to tell time in grade three was a struggle. My dad took to drilling me in the evening with the pink Bambi alarm clock. It got worse in grade five when we practised long division at home. Stresses in his job made my father angry and impatient. The more my father hovered over me, the more I made mistakes, and I felt stupid and powerless. I cowered and ran away as he reached for his belt in his frustration. Sin marred the relationship that I had with my father, even though I now have very fond memories of him.
“O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.” (Psalm 59:17 NLT)
One day, God spoke to me: As much as you loved your dad, he was an imperfect father. Your heavenly Father loves you perfectly. You don’t ever have to be afraid.
The imperfect love of my earthly father had the ultimate effect of pointing me to the love that my heavenly Father has for me. My dad’s love for me had flaws, but God used them to teach me about the unconditional love of my heavenly Father.
Unlike our relationship with our earthly fathers, there is nothing that we can do to make God love us any more or any less. We don’t need to earn God’s love or meet certain conditions to have Him love us. He just does. God loves us, not for who we are, but because of who He is. His love is unfailing.
On this Father’s Day, as we celebrate our dads, let us especially honour the One Who is truly our heavenly Father, in Whose perfect love we can rest.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us Your unfailing love! Thank You that we don’t have to be deserving or to earn Your love. May this wonderful thought sink deep into our hearts. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.
Copyright © 2021, by Alice Burnett, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional .
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada