My husband is a strong man. But, as our five children well know, he’s also a sentimental softie when we reach certain milestones. With each graduation, each moving out, and each wedding, there comes a moment when Jim will cry. Whether it be a speech or a toast or a quiet moment hugging goodbye, their big, strong father will break down in tears. This spring and summer, our youngest child graduated from college, will move to Austin to begin his new job, and marry his childhood sweetheart. It’s the Great Sentimental Milestone Trifecta. We’ll need tissues. Lots of them.
Jim’s tears spring from a deep well of love for our children. There are, however, tributaries of regret which flow through his heart. Opportunities missed, unfulfilled plans, whispers of inadequacy—did he do enough? Did he prepare them to go out and live in this world? Indeed, can any earthly father do enough?
Among the many word-pictures in scripture given to us to help us understand God, “Father” stands out. The first person of the Godhead isn’t only the Father to Christ, his eternal Son, but throughout scripture he calls himself Father to those he draws to himself, his adopted children. Through the prophet Hosea, God speaks these sweetly paternal words to Israel:
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
. . . . it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
. . . . I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them. (Hosea 11:1, 3, 4)
A Father With No Regrets
Even though no earthly father can live up to the perfections of our heavenly Father, we still recognize in these tender passages the heart that beats in the chest of so many fathers we know and love. The imperfect love of our fathers points us to the perfect love of our heavenly Father, who will never weep for opportunities missed or hold regrets that he didn’t do enough for his beloved children…