Dad. The word probably means something different to each of us. Recently, I’ve encountered many who have no attachment to that word whatsoever. “Dad” means nothing to them because simply, well, they’ve never had one. Now, obviously there was a sperm donor and from a biological perspective they have a dad. But from a nurturing, relational, and emotional attachment perspective, they feel fatherless.
I really believe that’s why Jesus spent his time on earth trying to help us understand what God is like and who he is. Many times throughout the Bible God is referred to as a dad, and that’s a good thing, but Jesus took it a step further. It’s one thing to say “You care for us like a dad” or “You are our dad,” but to say “Good morning, Dad” takes on a whole new meaning. Jesus wasn’t just describing what God is like, but Jesus also was telling us to relate to God as our dad!
If you want to dig in a little deeper, many scholars teach that when Jesus taught us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13, and say “Our Father, who is in heaven…” that he was using the word “Abba” – the first word that a young child learns in the Middle East – “Daddy.” Think about what this implies. Even those who have had the best example of an earthly dad have been misunderstood and discouraged because of them. Your Dad in heaven knows you better than anyone else and he is the real Dad to those who have never had one. Not only are you very valuable to him, but he also knows what things you are in need of before you even ask!
Can you imagine the love your heavenly Dad has for you? If God delighted in his plan before he spoke the world into being, how much greater is his delight to witness the full fruition of his labor – a believing son or daughter. That’s why he longs for us to see him as he really is: our Dad. Once we make that connection our entire approach to our Creator should shift – which I believe was Jesus’ intention all along.
“SAVANNAH, WHAT DID YOU DO?!” I was in shock. Sissa, the little baby squirrel that we had helped raise for the last few weeks was now laying in my hand, shaking violently and unable to stand up. Even after questioning my 4 year old daughter some more, it was apparent that Savannah was oblivious to how Sissa became injured. She claimed that they were “just playing together!”
Although this appeared to be an accident, inside my heart, I was boiling. I didn’t realize that I was so attached to our pet squirrel; however, my emotions now were revealing what this really meant to me. I could not believe that my cute little girl could do something so tragic, and worse yet, not even seem sad about it. My wife and I had told Savannah many times to be gentle with Sissa, and now here we stood, with an innocent baby squirrel struggling with an obvious spinal injury. Why hadn’t I trained my daughter to take better care of animals? Why wasn’t I more specific with how she should play with a baby squirrel? How could my own flesh and blood not show any remorse with what she had done?!
I knew what I had to do, and deep inside, I was furious. My wife and daughter went in the house, and I tried to get the courage to take care of Sissa and help him quickly get out of his misery. “I should make my daughter watch me do it,” I surprisingly thought to myself. “Why do I have to be the one to do the hard part?” It was then God spoke so clearly to me: “It’s not easy is it? Pouring your love into someone and then watching them make decisions with such devastating consequences – and then they don’t even see how much it hurts you.” My heart softened a bit and instantly I was convicted. How many times had I intentionally abused the gift graciously given to me from my Savior, and here I was angry at my daughter’s accidental carelessness?
This still wasn’t going to be easy. Burying Sissa’s lifeless body was very difficult, but even then, I was gently reminded that the heart of my little girl is much more valuable than many squirrels. Parenthood has provided many opportunities to observe what the Gospel really looks like, but going through this specific journey with Savannah has brought me to an even greater place of awe and thanksgiving for all that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice really means.