By Ben Morrow
I am often brought back to the concept Jesus gives us in the book of Matthew regarding God’s relationship to us as our Father. Jesus asks,
Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! -Matthew 7:9-11
Jesus tells us that, as God’s children, we will receive what we need when we ask. But He also appeals to a larger truth—one that is simple to grasp, yet infinitely profound. That truth is this: The Father knows how to be a perfect Father to His children.
Being a dad has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
As a couple in our mid-thirties, my wife and I were settled on the idea that God had blessed us with two boys. To our surprise, the Lord wasn’t finished. Baby number three came to us a year ago, in the form of a little girl.
I wasn’t prepared for the difference baby Zoe immediately brought to our family. As much as I love my boys, having a girl awakened all sorts of fatherly instincts and feelings that I wasn’t aware of with boys alone.
I find myself watching her as she sleeps or as she plays with her brothers thinking that I would die for that girl. For each one of my kids. I would sacrifice whatever I needed to in order to give them what they need to survive, to flourish, to know God for themselves, and to live fruitful lives for his glory.
And then the principle returns to my mind: If I, being evil, feel this way about my children, how much greater does my Father in heaven love me?
Father’s Day has always been one of my favorite days on the calendar.
This year was a much different experience, however. This year my own dad passed away about a month before Father’s Day.
I am blessed to say I had a wonderful relationship with my dad. Michael Morrow was my mentor, my pastor, my hero, and my friend. In my adult years, he was my first phone call when I had a question, whether it was about theology, politics, or the vehicle I was looking to buy. Even now I have to stop myself from reaching for the phone to run new life events by him.
Dad was my model for what a godly father looked like. I often look at interactions with my own children and filter conversations through previous similar exchanges I had with my dad in my own youth.
In this phase of life, where I find myself remembering my own father while functioning in that role for three children, I continue to discover deeper meanings of fatherhood. The practical application of passages like Deuteronomy 6:4-9 constantly show themselves as new teaching moments for me.
Moses wrote: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
The Apostle Paul’s instruction to the Ephesian church was simply a summary of the Deuteronomy passage. Paul wrote:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord -Ephesians 6:4
I look back on the phase of life where my parents faithfully raised me “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” and I am grateful to see how that Deuteronomy passage played out. My father was faithful to teach God’s Word diligently to me and my siblings, to talk of the Lord and His ways, and to emphasize Christ in all things. That is the legacy and example he left for me as a father.
When I find myself in those moments feeling overwhelming love and compassion for my kids, the most loving thing I can do for them is something that also happens to be an impossibility for me on my own—to consistently model Christ and point them to the Savior in all things, day by day.
I am learning a valuable lesson as a dad.
We are not guiding our children toward a harsh taskmaster. We have the privilege of introducing our kids to a Father who has the infinite ability to love them in far greater way than we could possibly imagine.
My capacity as a father does not come from a superhuman ability I have to be holy in front of my children. Any faithfulness for me rests in looking to my own heavenly Father for daily help. Some of the good gifts He gives to His children are the strength to walk in His Spirit, to learn of Him, to enjoy His presence, and to know His love for ourselves. As we know and experience His overwhelming love, He shares His love through us to others, especially our children.
The love for my kids reaches me to that deepest part of my soul that is most real, tangible, sacrificial, and emotional. And if I, being evil, feel this way, how much more does our Father in heaven? The answer to that is something I plan to spend forever discovering with my dad and with my children.