“Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.”1 John 3:1 TPT
It was my privilege and responsibility in life to partner with an extraordinary woman in the raising of three daughters. With all now married and raising babies of their own, that blessed assignment is behind us. In that season, I said these words countless times: “I love being a father to daughters.” And I did.
Here’s a confession. Early on with each one of my girls there was a . . . moment. Allow me to take you there.
She is maybe five or six months old, which means she has stopped looking like a tiny alien, as all newborns do (let’s be honest), and now looks like a beautiful miniature human. She’s alert and responsive to you. She interacts. Best of all, you’ve figured out how to make her laugh.
Oh, how you love to make her laugh. (It’s addictive, that bubbling, baby belly laugh.)
One day you’re hovering over the helpless little thing. She’s looking at you. She makes a certain face. And suddenly you see yourself to a degree you’ve never perceived before. Or maybe you see your mother; or your father; or that ancient, sepia-toned picture of your grandfather when he was a child.
Then, without warning, your heart stops. Then melts in your chest.
In that instant you know in your deepest know-er that you must not ever let anything bad happen to her. That you would crawl naked across broken glass every day to provide for her. And that from this day forward it is your God-given mission to steward this wriggling, giggling lump of raw potential and help her become the best possible version of who he created her to be.
This is the “Father-Heart” moment.
So, you embrace that mission as if lives depended on it (and you know that, in fact, they do). But soon three sobering realities confront you.
The first is that this world is a horribly twisted, fallen place. Depravity and violence seem to ooze from every crack in the crumbling edifice of our culture. This is the world you need to prepare her for.
God in heaven, how is that even possible?
Secondly, you know all-too-painfully well how flawed and broken you are as a human being. You’re intimately acquainted with your every character flaw. With how very many mistakes and poor choices you’ve made up to that point in your life—and how many more you’re certain to make going forward. But now it’s not just your sorry rear on the line.
Lord, she’s counting on me so I’m counting on you!
Thirdly, and this is the most startling revelation of all . . . you discover that she is broken too. That she was born neither a perfect angel nor a proverbial “blank slate” awaiting your brilliant writing. That she came out of the womb just as fallen and in need of divine redemption and restoration as you and every other son and daughter of Adam—only cuter.
Dear Jesus, help me point her to you.
So, in the face of these three bracing headwinds, you take a deep breath, lean in, and do the best you can. Oh, and you do all of this times three when God blesses you thricely. That’s when you discover that all three are utterly different in personality, temperament, gifting and heavenly calling. And therefore, each needs different things from you. Each responds best to a different style of training, correction and love.
So, you and your wife pray.
You pray to love them well and discipline them wisely. You pray you’re somehow striking the right balance between firm and soft, rigid and flexible.
You pray to know what’s a big deal and what’s a triviality you can let slide. When to say “yes” and be the hero; or say “no” and be the villain. When to let them struggle on their own and when to rush to their rescue.
You don’t always get it right. But you pray for grace, And God supplies it. You pray that his mercies will cover your mistakes. And you find those mercies new every morning.
Which brings me to the subject of our heavenly Father.
In healthy homes, there is something very special about the bond between a daughter and her father. Ask any father of girls and he’ll confirm it. I certainly can.
The research testifies of this as well. For example, numerous studies have shown that a girl is far more likely to begin smoking if her father smokes. In contrast, the smoking habits of a mother seem to have little statistical impact on girls. (However, a mother who smokes is more likely to produce sons who take up the addictive habit.)
For good or ill, the father carries an outsized influence on the formation of a girl into a woman.
The clear emerging picture is that well-fathered daughters simply tend to do better in life. Which makes the epidemic of fatherlessness in our culture a true tragedy.
What kind of earthly father did you have? Did you grow up with a daddy who was present, kind, loving, and protective? If so, you were blessed indeed. Truthfully, fathers tend to be just as flawed and broken as the rest of us. As such, they usually fall far short of the ideal.
Whatever your situation might have been growing up, your experience does not have to be your only chance at a loving relationship as the child of a wonderful father.
In biological terms, you can’t be born without a “father.” The same is true when you are “born again.” The Word of God makes clear that part of the miracle of the new birth is that God himself becomes your heavenly Father—by supernatural “birth” and adoption. The “birth” part means you are literally born of God. And your “adoption” means he chose you!
Romans 8:15-16 declares:
“And you did not receive the ‘spirit of religious duty,’ leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the ‘Spirit of full acceptance,’ enfolding you into the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, ‘Beloved Father!’ For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, ‘You are God’s beloved child!'”Romans 8:15-16 TPT
Deep, life-nourishing, peace-infusing intimacy with God is your birthright. As these verses make clear, he chose (or called) you. And having chosen you, he has lavished his marvelous Father-love upon you. You are a beloved, well-Fathered child. Indeed, each time he looks at you he has a “Father-Heart” moment.
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David A Holland is a writer, speaker, teacher, husband, father, and grandfather carrying a call to help God’s people better comprehend His goodness and grace. David is the founding pastor-teacher of The Cup & Table Co., a growing network of house churches based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area wherein New Covenant truths are proclaimed, and the implications of Jesus’ finished work are celebrated and lived out. His writing on faith, life, and culture is accessible at DavidAHolland.com.