Foundations: Your Father's Love
By John C. Drosendahl
I was once wearing my Roman-style black pastor's clerical for a hospital visit and entered the elevator. "Good morning, Father!" a woman greeted me, presuming I was a Roman Catholic priest. Without hesitation, I responded, "Well, my wife and I have 10 children so far, and I honestly don't remember you as one of them." I couldn't tell if she was aghast at the idea of a married Catholic priest, or my being the father of 10 children. Maybe it was both!
With Father's Day approaching, I reflect on the blessed opportunities God has given me to "father," if that's a verb. I'll be honest with you, as I look back, I see so many more of the missed opportunities than the successful ones: times I stayed too late at the church office and missed out on doing things with my kids; times I selfishly lay down on the sofa to watch TV instead of interacting with my children; times I said, "No, I don't really feel like playing badminton," just because I was tired.
Truth be told, I'm a lousy father at times. But there's actually something sort of helpful about that sad fact. It gives me pause, and opportunity to compare and contrast my own fathering with that of our heavenly Father. He is never too tired to want to be there for me. He is never distracted from hearing prayers of all His children. God the Father has never been too busy to spend time with me through His Word read and proclaimed, and in the visible words of His Sacraments as "holy hugs" for me. For you, too!
After first taking some time to contrast my profound failures with God the Father's amazing successes, I'm ready to do some comparisons as well. As our heavenly Father provides clothes, shoes, food, drink, house, home, spouse, children, and all we have, so, too, He gave me the opportunity to earn a living and provide these things for my family by working as a pastor. As my Father above forgives me for all of my many failings, He also gives me the chance to forgive my not-always-so-pious children with Absolution in His Name.
God accomplished the same things for me through my own dad while I was growing up as a sometimes-rebellious child. I look back now on my childhood, and I can see a reflection of God the Father's love through my own father in all the good things he did and provided for me. It makes me wonder whether God gives us such earthly fathers to help us understand how He Himself loves (1 John 3:1), cares for (1 Peter 5:7), provides for (Luke 12:24), and protects us (Psalm 91:4) through His Son, Jesus Christ.
I don't doubt I'll still fail in the future at times, but each time it will serve me as a reminder of how absolutely awesome God the Father is in never, ever failing us, but always granting forgiveness. And those times I may succeed in good fathering of my children, God the Father will get all the glory, for reflecting His dadding through me to my own kids.
Children of the heav’nly Father Safely in His bosom gather; Nestling bird nor star in heaven Such a refuge e’er was given. (“Children of the Heavenly Father” LSB 725, st. 1)
Rev. John C. Drosendahl grew up in a small onion farming town near Buffalo, New York. He went to Concordia College in Bronxville where he met the lovely Lauri. He went to seminary at Concordia in St. Louis. Graduating in 1992, he has served as a pastor in Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina. He is currently pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Mandeville, Louisiana. He has also served Higher Things as conference catechist, and several times as conference chaplain.
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