Yes, Virginia, there really is a perfect father

Lorraine Murray
Lorraine Murray

As Father’s Day draws nearer, children will be selecting crayon colors and making construction-paper cards. Often the cards show a big stick figure standing beside a little one with the message reading simply, “I love you, Daddy.”

Teens often opt for store-bought cards and then scramble around to find a gift. Ties and dress shirts will fly off the shelves, and the yearly bottle of after shave will be proffered on the big day.

Growing up, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was that my father, however imperfect, was at least there for me. My cousins lost their father when they were babies. My late husband’s father died when he was 6, and the memory he cherished was the scratchy feel of his father’s face, when he kissed him goodnight.

My dad wasn’t the kind of father who invites his daughters to a game of catch in the yard or imparts pithy words of wisdom. But he encouraged us to bring home good report cards, and did his best to support the family, despite struggling with a gambling problem.

A New Testament story features a son who leaves home and squanders the money his father has given him. When he finally returns home, the father embraces him instead of showing anger. Ashamed, the boy says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

But the father is so overjoyed at the homecoming that he prepares a special feast to celebrate. As he puts it, “This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

This story reveals so much about the Christian view of God as a father, eager to welcome the lost sheep back into the fold. In Psalm 103, we read: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in kindness.”

I see glimpses of this unfailing love in my friends who are fathers. They come home from work, exhausted and stressed out, but still make time to play with the baby. They yearn to relax on weekends, but instead take the kids to soccer practice. They put off repairing an appliance to pay the children’s tuition.

I saw a video of a father sitting with his three young children inside a car dealership. Suddenly a man in a hoodie walks by and starts shooting through the glass door. The father immediately grabs the children and pulls them to the ground, so he can shield them with his body. The children were unharmed, but the dad was shot in the thigh.

In a perfect world, earthly fathers would never fail their children, but in the real world, some fathers abandon the family, some drink too much, some are unfaithful to the children’s mother.

Still, we have a perfect father, who will never leave us or let us down. He will love and forgive us until the end of time. Christians believe God assumed human form and walked among us for 33 years. His love was so intense that he willingly made the ultimate sacrifice, which was dying for us.

On Father’s Day, as we celebrate our earthly fathers, let’s not forget our father who is in heaven, who created the world, gave us life — and will always shield us from harm.

Lorraine has written five works of non-fiction and three mysteries. Her email address is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com.

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