When I was fourteen, my dad slapped me. I was mouthing off (there’s a surprise), and he was furious. So furious, he ran out of words.
My father loved me. He did. But the sting of that slap didn’t feel like love, not for a minute. Some of you know firsthand what I’m talking about, and your memories go much deeper and darker than one angry slap on an ordinary school night.
Still, as a twenty-something woman, the idea of God being my Father was a stumbling block for me. When I first read, “We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it” (Hebrews 12:9), my face grew hot.
Respect wasn’t the word that came to mind.
Fear was what I felt. Anger. Resentment. And a deep sadness.
Those of us who’ve struggled with father issues are not alone. Melissa admits, “I grew up without a father as a consistent presence in my life. I couldn’t even imagine fatherly love. Then God reached out to me.”
Yes. That’s what the best of fathers do. They reach out to their children. “It’s the relationship He chooses to have with me,” Kathryn says. “I am His daughter and He is my Abba.”
This was a whole new concept for me—calling the Lord “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). So personal, so trusting, especially using the tender, more familiar Aramaic word, Abba. Daddy.
Before my father left this world, we came to a place of peace about our relationship, and I’m grateful for that. If you had a wonderful relationship with your dad, praise God for that gift.
For all of us, our Heavenly Father is the true definition of fatherliness (yes, it really is a word), beautifully described by a Facebook sister named Robin:
“He is the Daddy I have longed for my whole life. He fills all my empty places with His love. He teaches me everything I need to know through His Word. He comforts me, letting me pour out my heart to Him. He never grows tired of my persistence or frustrated with my slowness. He is wise to discipline me when I need it. He is faithful to do what He promises, so I can totally trust Him. God is a good Father.”
Yes, He is good. In truth, the best. “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5).
Thank you, Lord, for giving us the privilege of calling you Father. Yes, even, Daddy. No earthly parent ever gets it all right. But You do. Your love surrounds us. Your discipline guides us. Your mercy redeems us. How blessed are we, to be your children!
Beloved, I hope you’ll share your thoughts about what His Fatherliness means to you. Blessings on your weekend!
Your sister, Liz
Thanks, Liz. I need that reminder that God is my perfect Father. I know it in my head, but my heart often forgets. I act as if my Heavenly Father has forgotten me or does not love me, but neither of those things are true. Sometimes, we just need a reminder of His goodness and love as our perfect parent.
Thanks for the encouragement today.
Oh, Liz…what a beautiful post. Bittersweet for me,tho’, as I was such a Daddy’s girl…to a fault. I miss him so much at times. Our Heavenly Father blessed me with a relationship, I believe, before my earthly Father came to know Him. Years ago, I gave Daddy a Life Application Bible as he enrolled in Bible Study Fellowship. (BSF) I still have his Bible w/some of his notes in it from BSF w/ his writing I’ve come to cherish. In his absence, I’m comforted by our Heavenly Father and am forever grateful I’ll see my earthly Father when I go to our eternal home. Thank you for this amazing glimpse into both kinds of “Dads”. We praise you, Lord. Love across town!!! EH =)
It is difficult to retrain yourself. I know the difference between God and my earthly father…the hard thing is to put that knowledge into action. I have ingrained ways of responding to people and situations. For instance, not wanting to confront because….well…that would mean rocking the boat…and that’s really uncomfortable. Or another example would be keeping every emotion bottled up inside and not telling God about the things that bother me because I am so used to sweeping things under the rug.
O my, this is me as well. My dad was a good man but enabled my mum who could be abusive. I was abused by men (not family) and
I struggle with trust issues. I also struggle with why didn’t daddy save me? I have made peace with this but also learned not to rock the boat. God bless Sister
Thank you for sharing about fathers. My father went to heaven to be with my mom on 12-23-14. Yes 2 days before Christmas. He had just turned 80 on 10-28-14. I got to talk to him less than an hour before he passed. He told me how much he loved me and that he was ready to go because he couldn’t take any more pain of the RA. He was the best! Always loving and giving. Working hard every day. But you knew where you stood with him too. I miss him so, but thankful I got to have 55 years with him and he is no longer in pain. I picture God our Father like this too.
Thank you for always sending a word in due season. The other night as i lay in bed a memory surfaced. It was one of those that you question if God saw me that day and my earthly dad gave me a beating u will never forget. That was 43 years ago and I can honestly say it is through my Abba Daddy that I have found forgiveness, love and compassion for him. My heavenly daddy has healed me and put His love in me. And for that I can forgive and love.
My birth father was killed in WWII so I never knew him and he never saw me. My step-father was like a daddy in every respect, yet I have always longed to meet my birth father.
Over the years that longing has been added to by an even stronger longing, to meet my Abba! I am blessed with two fathers, and my heavenly Daddy!
I have missed my dad’s love and his sense of humor, but today this has reminded me of my Heavenly Father who is always present, loves me unconditionally and will never leave me!!
Oh my how you have deeply touched my heart this morning with this post. I am so grateful that God spoke to me through you. Two memories came to my mind that gave me such a sense of peace about my Daddy and my PaPa. Both of which would take too long to write, but the warmth that filled my heart because of those memories was just what I needed this morning. Thank you so much for being the person that God used to speak to me today.
Smiles & Blessings to you!
Tracy Lee Bradley
I was just talking to the Lord this morning about my desire to know Him as Father/Abba-father. Your post brought me to tears and tells me that He has heard my heart cry and is already sending an answer…He is faithful!
I have confident expectation that I will know Him better as Abba!
How beautiful and special to know we always have a Father! In heaven and who loves us here on Earth too
I am ashamed to admit this but I struggle with calling the Lord my father. While I get the concept, I don’t feel that connection-yet. To me our God is a warm pair of footed pajamas, a best friend who never quits. He is an unending listening ear. A celebrator, a Griever, my personal Rocky Balboa. And I still can’t call him father. But He is. He blessed me with the best earthly father I could ask for. Blesses me daily, without being asked. He wakes me gently every morning and tucks me in at night. And I still can’t call him father. He is in every aspect of my day. I love him so. I thank him, love him and some days even grumble at him. But calling him my dad is awkward, foreign on my tounge. For me He rises above any earthly moniker I could ever dream of placing on Him. He is my best friend, my mentor, my parent, my confidant, my EVERYTHING.
I am so blessed to have had a Dad who loved me, believed in me, and inspired confidence in me. I never questioned his love for me. what a beautiful picture he gave me of a loving heavenly Father! I know I can come boldly into His presence and find grace!
True Fatherhood is such a gift! My father was what I call a rageaholic. He didn’t drink or do drugs, he was just an angry man. He took that anger out on those closest to him, but was marvelously personable with every one outside the walls of our home. The duality was remarkable to me. And from a young age, I hated him for it. At church I would hear God referred to as our Heavenly Father and thankfully I didn’t shut out the idea that He could be good.
I am also thankful for the moment when, as a young girl, I was seated at a friend’s home for supper and witnessed the loving interaction of her parents and, in particular, her father as he genuinely prayed for the meal. That’s when God whispered to my heart that this is what a true father looks like. That gave me hope!
I am so grateful that our Good Heavenly Father persistently reaches out to us, drawing us to Himself. Although I don’t have any personal experience of a loving and tender father, the truth of scripture and the examples of godly men, of whom my husband is one, remind me that God as Father is good, all the time, and I am loved and cared for by Him.
My Daddy was not a spiritual giant; he was my Daddy. I was his “Baby Chile”. Actually, I was his pet out of his three children.
He taught me to ride a horse, plow a field, cut grass, grow a garden and talk to him, which gave me a confidence in the presence of men as a young woman and now.
But what I love to remember about my Daddy is that I could sit in his lap whenever I wanted to or needed to even until I married. I could tell him my secrets and heartaches and joys.
Praise God I know how to call Him ABBA
I lost my father at the age of 2 1/2; therefore, I have no recollection of an earthly father. As I grew up in the church, God truly became the only Father that I knew. He was with me without me knowing it, but I was aware of blessings that I didn’t deserve. I strayed somewhat from my teachings, but during a really devastating time, it was my Father who was there for me. I pray for those children who grow up with abusive or negligent fathers because how can we tell them about a gracious and merciful God. As a part time missionary to Ukraine, I have answered many questions teenagers asked. One dealt with this question about fathers. God was with us because many of the young people were searching for Him. Bless you for this study.
Such a beautiful article. My relationship with my earthly father was wonderful, and yes those times of discipline (which weren’t many – he had eyes that spoke volumes and I definitely knew when I had reached enough) did bring respect for him. This was such a blessing because it made developing a deep loving relationship with my Heavenly Father an easy road. I praise Him for it often.
My heart breaks though – as I look at those who did not have the same blessing in fathering as I did. I have 3 beautiful daughters, 2 of which their father distanced himself from them for several years. (I raised them all in a “religious” surrounding. This was before I understood the difference between religion and relationship. I so often wish I had known the difference. They did the “Church” think while growing up, because I guess that is what was expected of them. Now they have turned from the Lord). God blesses me as I watch them as I see in so many ways how my earthly father influenced them as well. Choices of career, compassion for others, a proper work ethic.
My prayer is that the early planted seeds, will be watered and added to by others who know God on a personal basis and can bring my daughters that same hope, as I too walk out my relationship with my Heavenly Father before them.
Once again thank you for sharing such wonderful messages.
This is a tough one for me, but I’m thankful that God is able to fill every void in our lives, and one day that fullness will be complete.
I am leading a group through your Bad Girls of the Bible. Last night we discussed the woman at the well. I can’t remember exactly what you had written that triggered this thought but we were discussing her enthusiasm about telling others about Jesus. I pointed out that much like a child will say with pride “did you see what my daddy gave me?” or ” did you see what my mommy did?” Jesus wants us to tell others about his sacrifice. He wants us to be awed by his sacrifice much like a child with their parent.
My earthly Father went to heaven two weeks ago. Our relationship was strained, but I got to let him know how much I loved him. I know that the Lord walks with me in this because I feel His strength. I am grateful that I have a loving Heavenly Father who comforts me daily!
I am glad that the Lord is Father because I know I need all of the things a good and loving is for a daughter!
I was blessed to have an earthly father that loved the Lord and showed that love to his family. He disciplined me when I needed it (which was often!) but he did it out of love. He was an example of my Heavenly Father so it was not hard for me to call God , Father. He is my sustainer, provider, my all in all. I am looking forward to the day when I shall see my earthly father again but even more to see my “Abba” father!
Liz thank you for this. I have never met my earthly father, at least not since I was 6 months old. He was abusive to my mom. She had some good friends and courage enough to leave.
As a child I had gaping hole within that I felt only my real father could fill. I didn’t know that he was an abusive alcoholic. I just knew I needed a daddy. My mom remarried when I was 7 and I absolutely hated that man until I was in my 20s. My stepdad was not a bad man, but I rejected him from the beginning because I saw that he was foolish in many ways and wasn’t going to be the father I so desperately wanted/needed.
When I was a teenager and able to search for my long lost father on the Internet I got in touch with my grandmother and aunt. From them I found out he was going to be in prison for a very long time. I was heartbroken. I later found out that he had molested his 12 year old stepdaughter, which would have happened when I was about 4 years old. I suddenly understood that God had protected me and given me a much better life than I would have had if it had been up to me. But I was angry.
The Lord plucked me out of a horrible mess. I am so thankful that He has always been my Father even though I couldn’t see Him or understand what He was doing, even though I was a miserable poor sinner, even though I was so angry at Him that my friends had such wonderful fathers and I did not. I still mourn not having grown up on a loving Christian family as many of my friends did but I now am also thankful for the Lord’s mercy and saving grace. He fills the emptiness. He heals the brokenhearted. He has given me a wonderful godly husband and 3 amazing children. He has changed my heart and mind about so much.
But it is still hard for me to understand the whole Father thing, I often find myself ignoring God because that’s what I did to my stepdad, especially when I’m upset or going through some trial. Sometimes it feels like I’m all alone or that I’m being punished for something or even like He won’t listen to me at all. I know none of that is true, at least in my mind, but maybe many of us without our earthly fathers struggle with this.
Anyway, thank you for your encouragement and reminder of God’s perfect fatherliness. 🙂
God is the best father anyone could have. He is my everything. He speaks to me through His Word, He provides for me, He is my peace, He is my comfort, He gives me wisdom. He blesses me with His Presence. He loves me with an everlasting love. And He always knows whats best for me! 🙂
Thanks for this Liz!
My earthly father was physically present but not emotionally presen for my siblings & me. My virginity was taken from me as a naive & unprotected 13-year-old. I became a sexual abuse victim of a pedophile next door & other men who touched me inappropriately. My heavenly Father, Abba, has come to mean a great deal to me. Even tonight at the church’s altar I was whispering Abba. I physically feel His embrace & love & comfort when I whisper Abba. I am at peace when I sense my heavenly Daddy’s presence in my life.
I had a Daddy who was a great provider for our family and he worked very hard. As the oldest child and daughter of 5 children I did not get very much emotional support or conversation while I was growing up. I knew in my head that my Daddy loved me but love was not really felt in my soul. We were taught that children were to be seen and not heard, you did as you were told by your elders and you did not ask questions. I grew up believing I had to take care of myself since there were 4 younger children in 9 1/2 years from my birth. I was a compliant child and was given a lot of responsibility early in my childhood. After I was an adult and almost 40 yrs. old I went into counseling for being sexually abused as a child. When I was able to share this tragedy with my Daddy our relationship started a transformation. He comforted the little girl in me as well as his grown daughter and we went on to share a wonderful loving father/daughter relationship until his death in 2005 at 80 years old. But because of my childhood and choices I made to take care of myself I believed a lie about God until a few years ago. I believed like my Daddy when I was a child that GOD loved me, but I had to take care of myself. GOD was too busy and others needed HIM more. Since the Holy Spirit revealed this lie to me my relationship with GOD is also under transformation. I know HE loves me like no other and is the only perfect lover of my soul and HE always has time for me, no matter what my need is. One day when we were talking about my past and I asked HIM if HE had a new name for me (read Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard) I immediately heard in my mind “Delight”! I am still overwhelmed and will never get over the grace of God sharing that new name with me. Do I always “feel” like I am a “delight” to GOD? No, but GOD”S facts say differently. I cannot always trust my feelings but I can always trust HIS facts! No matter what, no matter when, GOD is for me and is working all things together for good. Do I “hear HIM” every time we talk? No, not always like I did that day, but I always know HE is with me and listening and responding. What love is this? Only the love of GOD, my HEAVENLY DADDY.
My earthly father left this earth 14 years ago. My relationship with him was blessed. I still long to see and talk to him daily. But my greatest blessing is Jesus. He has always been with me, but when my earthly father died, Jesus took my life completely over and I now know He has my entire heart. He comforts, directs, loves, protects me. There are to many words to put down. I just can’t even begin to describe, but I know and I have hope.
This devotion touched my heart. My dad passed to go be with the Lord , it will be two years in July. And I never thought about Jesus/God being my daddy here and now. I just always thought my dad is gone…he is with the Lord. But this devotional has given me hope..my bio dad is with my heavenly dad. I am not abandoned….I’m blessed. Thank you Jesus.
I never knew my dad as he passed away before I was 3, but as I got older I found out he did not want me nor my brother, and he had put into some kind of institution.. he may have died while we were there I do not know, but he died a really, bad death.. but it made it hard for me to believe that this God I could not see could love me so much HE sent HIS one and only SON to die for the likes of me since the earthly father didn’t even want me, nor did my mother.. well she may have but her “drink” and “men” came first.. human love has let me down over and over, and for the longest time I felt that hell was a good place for a person such as I, then one day, just a few years ago I asked God why love had passed me by and HE said to me ” ISN’T MY LOVE ENOUTH?” and yes it is and I can hardly wait to see my ABBY FATHER, DADDY face to face and tell HIM how much I love HIM and to thank HIM for waiting for the likes of me.. I LOVE HIM WITH ALL MY HEART.
Because Fathers are so important in our lives, this devotional will touch many raw nerves. My dad left my mom with four children, driving away in my mom’s car, leaving us destitute and penniless when I was too young to remember.
But God, in His love and mercy, used this to bring me into a Christian relationship with Him. Sadly, I committed my life to Him over and over again, realising only fully now at age 65 how negatively my life experience coloured my perceptions of my perfect Heavenly Father. We all need reminding, again and again of who our Heavenly Father really is, again and again in order to realise that He is indeed Trustworthy and who He tells us He is in the bible. Your head knows this full well, but your heart needs reminding. Without this heart knowledge your Christian walk becomes tiring like a treadmill. When your heart grasps it, your walk is calm and attractive to others in need of a relationship with a good and perfect Heavenly Father.
My 92 year old father-in-law is suddenly very frail and heading towards the end of his time with . Having been bought up fatherless from one month old he struggled without a roll model yet became the loving caring father we all know.
Thankyou for you post which has reminded me that my loving heavenly Father has been his too through out his whole life, especially now at its close. Jesus says He will never leave us nor foresake us . How true, I pray that dad who has no outward faith finds this and is comforted.