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Church Letters to Maddie

Being a dad

Tonight I had to go to the home of someone I love on Easter, because the dad of the family just raged-out and left in a fit. Said he wasn’t coming back that night. I went over and prayed with them, helped finish the meal that the dad had started, and just got some normalcy restored as much as one can do in those situations.

But truth be told I’m still mad about it. The dad claims to love Jesus, and I believe that he does, but the choices he makes routinely are options I think should be off the table for men who love Jesus.

I’ve been a dad for a very short period of time, only almost 2 years at this point. But I definitely know what I want, what my goal is:

I want my daughter to be primed to hear one day that Jesus loves her like a father without her earthly father messing up what that means.

I pray often for my little girl while I hold her at night before she sleeps- God let the way that I love her through the years- with a firm commitment to the truth and what’s right, with a grace and mercy and love for her. So that one day, when someone tells her she is loved by God the way a dad loves his daughter that my actions don’t mask or disfigure that beautiful analogy.

My dad is a good man. He works hard, provides for his family, and lives honestly. But we don’t have much of a relationship. The idea of him knowing me, or even more, the idea of me knowing him, seemed so far fetched to me growing up. So when someone told me about God, and I heard God constantly referred to as our father figure, I spent years laboring to earn a love, of a being I didn’t expect knew me or wanted to know me. But rather a figure who wanted my respect and obedience. While God does want my obedience, and my respect, He wants so much more than that. It took me years to begin to see the fuller picture of our God by combining my view of my biological dad, with my surrogate father, Bob Lane. With other dads I watched.

Those are all things I had to unpack and learn when I grew up with an honest, good tempered, hard working father! So all the more, when a dad decides he’s had enough and just needs to go “cool off” for a few days to blow off steam, I get righteously angry! That man has two sons, learning daily from his example. Not just for how they will one day lead their families, but also in what God means when he talks about forgiveness, mercy, love, long-suffering, patience. And they’re gaining a warped view of God in those things!

One day someone is going to tell Maddie about Jesus, and I want to not get in the way of that. I want to live in such a way that she says if God loves her as much as her dad, and in the way her daddy does, then she wants to hear more about God!

And my twist for the evening- I know that I have it in my heart, on my mind and in my actions, to live this way for my daughter. But I know that Jesus is just waiting for us all to figure out that it’s supposed to be this level of vigilance for how I interact with all people! Would years and years of people be more interested in Jesus because of how I love them. Would my actions not leave a wreckage wake behind me, but people hungry for the gospel. Would God use my deep passion and concern for how I influence people spiritually to grow beyond the walls of my home and instead reach round the world.

God, forgive me for my narrow focus. Let me love Maddie with all I have and all I am. But also let me see those around me, those that I will one day make the gospel easier or harder to see, and help me to serve you in every relationship I have, not just the one where love flows so freely, and not just the days where I find it easy. Overflow me with concern for the gospel, for Maddie and the whole world. And prepare me for the hardest of days to still live this out, not for my own accomplishment, but for your glory and usefulness. — Amen