What does it mean to be a father?  Is it about a person who provides a shelter, food, and clothes for their family?  Does it refer to the way they protect their children from harm, even to the point of putting their own lives on the line?  Or can being a father simply be described as someone who loves their sons and daughters unconditionally forever?  No matter how you define what it means to be a father, one thing is absolutely for certain.  Fathers are always ready to hand out advice, allowances, and accolades, making them irreplaceable heroes in the eyes of their children.

This Father’s Day, many children, young and old alike, will honor their fathers through cards, gifts, and the greatest treasure of all, love.  And yes, dad will likely receive tie #87 to add to his collection.  But it isn’t about the sentimental greeting card bearing the perfect verse or the funny card with the verse that says “How much do I love you?” leading to the giant hands that pop out and say, “This much!”   Father’s Day is about honoring the man who cared for you as a child and through your teen years.  He loved you even when you spit up on his new suit on the way to church, he loved you when you accidentally backed his car into the garage door, and he loves you even now, no matter how old you are, with your quirks and all.

I am blessed to have a dad who loves me unconditionally.  He is always there for me when I need him and he is the rock my foundation is built upon.  My mama and daddy taught me the most important lesson of all: a life with God at the center is the life worth living.  No matter what I am going through, my dad always has a word of wisdom or encouragement, or maybe just a hug to let me know he cares and he understands.  I am grateful to have such a loving father and I know I am blessed beyond measure to enjoy such a special father-daughter relationship.  It is something I cherish and will never take for granted.
Perhaps you have never had a relationship like that with your father.  Or maybe your father has gone on to be with the Lord and you’re left on this earth feeling alone.  While it is understandable that you miss him and that you wish things were different, I want you to know that you are never alone.  Jesus Christ, your Heavenly Father, is always with you.  Joshua 1:5 (NIV) says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  This promise means that our Heavenly Father, just like your biological father, will always love you, quirks and all.  It doesn’t matter if you can see Him or not.
One Sunday morning at church, I learned about a special tradition between a Cherokee father and son.  According to the Cherokee Indian tradition, a young boy must exhibit bravery in order to become a man.  To do this, his father takes him deep into the forest.  Once they are in the appropriate location, the father places a blindfold over his son’s eyes and instructs him to sit on a stump.  The son is not allowed to leave the stump or remove the blindfold until after sunrise the next morning.  During the night, he hears the sounds of wild animals and other frightening things around him, but still, he cannot leave the stump or take off the blindfold if he wants to successfully complete this rite of passage.
When morning breaks, I am sure he is relieved to feel the sun on his face and know that he can finally remove the blindfold after enduring a long, fearful night.  When he looks up, he is stunned.  For it is only then that he realizes that his father had been sitting on a stump beside him all night long, watching over him and protecting him from harm.  You see, the father wanted to know if his son was brave, yet he was not willing to put his son in harm’s way to do so.  Instead, he ensured that his son was safe and constantly under his watch all through the night.

Similarly, our Heavenly Father watches over us, day and night.  When we feel alone, He is there.  When we are afraid, He sends His Comforter.  When we just need to know that everything will be okay, He will provide the calm assurance we so desperately need.  He has already carried our load, mended our broken hearts, and restored our lives.  All we have to do is call on the name of Jesus.  Just like the young Cherokee boy who could not see his father sitting beside him all through the night, we need to have faith that everything will be alright.  We do not have to see Jesus Christ to know that He is with us.  We simply need to trust that He will watch over us in the darkest nights and protect us from all harm.  Our Heavenly Father knows our needs before we ask.  He loves us with a fierce, unconditional love.  Best of all, He is always sitting on the stump right beside us.

In Christ's Love,