This Week’s Beacon

Our minister writes a weekly column for our local newspaper, the Roanoke Beacon.  We’ve included the latest edition below.

Last September, Becky Carey learned that her Dad wouldn’t be attending her wedding.

Becky’s dad, Tim, was battling prostate cancer. When his body could no longer withstand the stress of treatment, Tim Carey transitioned to hospice care so that his remaining days would be as comfortable as possible.  Becky, recognizing that her Dad would probably not live to see her wedding day, asked her wedding photographer to come to the family home to shoot some photos with her Dad.

Tim Carey, dressed in his Air Force Blues, danced in his backyard with his daughter, who had donned her wedding gown. Both realized the significance of the moment, but the love they shared overpowered their grief. The pictures taken that day reveal smiles and joy as Dad and daughter twirled together and celebrated their relationship. 

Tim Carey passed away on March 28.  When Becky dances with her Dad at her wedding reception, it will only be in pictures.

Too many newspaper headlines tell of abusive fathers, deadbeat dads and men who might be sperm-donors but don’t have a clue about fatherhood.  On my desk lays a story about a father who shook his 4-week old daughter because she was crying; he produced brain trauma that caused her death nearly 14 years later.   Another story tells about a man who went on a shooting rampage because he thought his wife was having an affair. By the time he was stopped, the man had killed his wife, 2 daughters, and the man he alleged was his wife’s paramour. Two others were seriously wounded. The three-year old daughter who survived the attack will forever carry the emotional scars inflicted by her dad.

But then there are the dads like Tim Carey, dads who fill a special place in the hearts of their offspring.  Dads who cherish the days they can spend with their children.  Dads who sacrifice their own comfort for the sake of their kids.

Those are the dads who help us to understand God.

The word “father” appears over 1100 times in the Old Testament, but only 3 of those times reference God as “Father.”  For the people of the Old Testament era, God was Creator, Lord, Judge, Defender and King.  The idea of God as “Father” wasn’t very familiar.

But then Jesus came along.  Fifteen times in the Sermon on the Mount alone, Jesus referred to God as “Father.”  Not just as His Father, but as “our Father” and even “your Father.” It’s as though Jesus said to us, “I have a great Dad and I want you to meet Him.  I want you to know Him like I know Him.  You’re gonna love Him!”

 Jesus showed us a Father who cared so much about our pain and suffering that He was willing to become a man and suffer alongside us.  Jesus revealed a Father who worked hard to build and strengthen His relationship to His children.  Jesus introduced mankind to a Father who holds high expectations of His children, but also can wisely discipline and forgive those children when they fail to live up to those expectations.  Jesus told us about a Father who can’t wait to spend eternity with us in Heaven.

The Apostle Paul must have cherished this view of God as “Father.”  Take a look at Paul’s letters, and you’ll find that each and every one begins with a greeting “in the name of God our Father.”  Then, in a famous passage treasured by Christians (Romans 8:14-16, NIV), Paul writes, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”  “Abba” is the familiar form of the Aramaic word, “Father,” equivalent to our word “Dad.”

As Father’s Day approaches, dads like Tim Carey deserve all the praise and honor that comes their way.  They fill such an important role in their kids’ lives and leave a void that is forever felt when they are gone.

But there are others, men who are worthless failures and give fatherhood a bad name. If your earthly father was one of those, leave him behind.  Exchange him for Jesus’ Father.  Jesus died so that His Father could be your “Dad” too.