I have heard some Christians talk about the difficulty they have had - some for many years - in thinking of God the Father as their loving, Heavenly Father as a result of a difficult father-child relationship in their past. Some have spoken of their feelings of fear when they even hear the name 'father'. Some have great difficulty thinking of a father as one who would care one way or the other about them.
Well, the many years I had when I thought wrong thoughts about God was certainly nothing to do with the earthly father I had.
Lack of love? Ohhhhh no!
Unkindness? Not ever.
And so, as we approach Father's Day, it's fitting that I post a little about the father God gave me.
There are over fifty years since this day,
and around forty-seven years since this photo was taken.
Although, when you're young, you tend to assume that everyone is in the same situation as yourself, I do remember being aware that most dads I knew didn't spend as much time having fun with their kids as mine did. I now wonder at Dad's apparent lack of tiredness. He worked so hard, and was away for long hours each day, and yet he seemed to have so much time to play games with his kids.
He cared so much for our spiritual welfare. In 'fun' things, he was so full of fun. In eternal matters, he was serious, though never, ever harsh. We knew our need of a Saviour. We knew the danger we were in while we remained outside of Christ. I am thankful that he never made spiritual things onerous. He used to give us fun quizzes on a Sunday night, and it is due in great part to his time and effort, that I have never thought of the Lord's Day as long and boring. In fact, I feel the opposite: the Lord's Day is, in my mind, a wonderful day.
The attitudes he had has formed my mindset in so many ways. He always taught us to look at what the Bible said, and not to be too concerned with what other people thought. He said time and time again that he was concerned with his family and what God's Word said, not at all with what other people thought of him. We never heard himself and Mum talking about other people, or other families. They weren't his concern, and he hated any gossip. I am so thankful for these attitudes that have shaped me in so many ways.
He despised the spirit of envy that became more and more prevalent in the later decades of the 20th century. His attitude encouraged me to be content, to thank God for the many wonderful blessings I have, but never to envy those who seem to have more in worldly terms than we have. This attitude has led to my own dislike of socialist attitudes of envy towards those who 'do well' in life. When I hear or read of political leaders talking about people of 'privilege', I think their idea of privilege is totally skewed. Those of us with stable, loving childhood are the real people of privilege.
Everything Dad was to me growing up, he now is to our kids.
He absolutely adores them! He would spend his life with them, and is at his happiest when he's with them.
His sense of fun clearly hasn't diminished with age, as can be seen from this photo from around three years ago. Yes, this is my Dad, in his mid-70s, having fun on our frozen machair.
Taken around 18 years ago, this is one of my favourite photos of Dad. Here he is with Catherine, taking a break from reading to her. It sums up what he was to me, and what he now is to our kids.
Here he is with Builder, both of them showing that they have well and truly moved into the 21st century!
Happy Father's Day, Dad! I will always be thankful to my Heavenly Father for the father He gave me.
Love you, Grampa!