Last week I was meeting over breakfast with some guys I meet over breakfast with... and I found myself feeling the most extraordinary feeling: gratitude for my dad.
We were talking about various and sundry things God is doing, pushing or pulling us toward, and one guy was mentioning how grateful he is for having a wonderful dad. Loves the guy. Tries to look past the one or two little things that really bother him about their relationship because he knows his dad cares. But still, there are these one or two things that feel something like a wound...
As we talked about those one or two little things, my only thought, and what came out of my mouth was this: Well, thank God your dad isn't perfect.
Thank God MY dad isn't perfect.
It was a revelation to me when in High School someone told me my view of God was likely very much shaped by my view of my father. While the correlation wasn't perfect, I could certainly see some of the ways it was true.
Later, it was even more a revelation to read Eph 3:14-15 ("For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named [that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name]."- Amplified Bible).
We get angry when our parents fail us, or when our dad isn't the loving, gracious, patient (fill in the adjective) father we want. We get even more angry when we realize they were meant to be a certain way, draw a certain picture... Our parents, and for the sake of this discussion, our fathers are meant to point to that Father of which they are merely a shadow, a type.
But here's the thing: more than meant to- they DO.
Even the crappy ones.
They point us to God in both what they do well and in what they do poorly. They point us to him when they succeed in loving us and when they fail to.
How? How could they point us to Him in their failure?
Because if they were perfect, did it ALL right, offered us unconditional love that was always patient, always wise, always nurturing and building into us... well, I guess we wouldn't need God, right? We'd be satisfied with that guy over there in the Lay-Z-Boy and completely miss the God of the Universe, the God who made us, pursues us, died for us.
I realize it's probably a little too John Piper-esque for some reading this to say "Thank God for all the ways in which your dad failed you." So I'm not going to say that.
But I will say this: I'm thankful for a dad who didn't get much right (and that's probably about the most generous assessment I've ever done of his fathering). I'm thankful because though he never pointed me to God intentionally, by his absence and indifference he drove me to lean all the more heavily on the God who is always present and never indifferent- the God who loves me, like the Psalmist says, with an everlasting love.
I realize that may be an odd way to appreciate my dad, but it's the truth.
And if that's ALL my dad ever did for me, I think it's enough.