The rustling of paper made its way down the hallway from the room where my two-year-old was playing while I nursed her baby sister. Concerned, I hollered, “Sweetheart, please come here!” Crinkling accompanied each one of her little steps as she clumsily clambered up the stairs. When she reached the threshold of the baby’s nursery I saw that her pajamas were crammed full of paper wads.
"Did you rip a book?" I asked. She grinned and, to my horror, pulled out a sheet from the book of Genesis, which I could see was accompanied by a host of other crumpled, thin paper pages buried inside her PJs. “Baby, we don’t rip books,” I said, staring at the fragmented pages that I recognized from my husband’s Bible.
She gently planted a kiss on my lips and said, “I’m sorry, baby!” which brought a smile to my otherwise exasperated face. When her daddy got home, she ran to him and confessed, “I ripped your book, Dada!”
He could have reacted in anger when he discovered the Bible he loved was ripped to shreds by little hands, but by God’s grace he lived out what he’d read in its pages. Instead, his response embodied the character of her heavenly father: strength and gentleness, justice and mercy, wisdom and guidance.
“It’s okay,” he said, after coaching her through a simple, two-year-old version of an apology. “You just took God’s instruction to hide his Word in your heart a little too literally. I should probably take a page out of your book!”
You may have been blessed with a father who responds, more often than not, the way my husband did upon discovering a ruined treasure. Others may have wished for any kind of response from an absent father. Still more may have experienced the hurt of having a father who would pour out his wrath for something as minimal as a ripped book.
No matter what your experience may have been, every earthly father has fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). To some, this may seem depressing, but the truth is, it’s freeing! Praise God, our salvation isn’t dependent upon our earthly father’s performance or how well he parented. Both his successes and failures can point us to Jesus. His Christ-like responses come only by the grace of Jesus. And when he fails, we're reminded just how much we need our perfect, heavenly father. We aren’t saved by our parents’ works or by our works, but by grace through faith in the finishing, perfect work of Jesus (Eph. 2:8–9).
Whatever feelings we maintain toward a holiday like Father’s Day, they can all be overcome by delighting in this reality. There’s no better place to find joy in Jesus than the primary means by which he’s given us to know him: his Word. May we go to our Bibles, pull out who he is and hide him near our hearts, just like my little girl excitedly stuffed the pages of her daddy’s Bible into her pajamas. In his Word our eyes are opened to the beautiful reality that we don’t need a perfect earthly father, because we have a perfect heavenly father (Matt. 5:48) who adopted us through his son, Jesus (Eph. 1:5). As his daughters, we are the children of a father who is worthy of all celebration! May we glorify him today by loving and honoring the men in our lives exactly where they are, no matter how great or poor their example.
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