Good dad. Bad dad. My dad. “Abba Dad.”

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Good dad.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

In reading your comments on Father’s Day, I came up with the following conclusion about fathers and Father’s Day: There are good dads. There are bad dads. There is my dad. “Abba Dad.”

My dad was a good dad. He made sure I was in an environment to learn about God and His word. He provided for me — even made sure I went to college without any debt. He left this world without placing a burden on his children for either him or his wife. He prayed. He took us on awesome family vacations. He played ping pong with us, and once in a while, took me to a baseball game. He laughed a lot.

My dad was a bad dad. He did not praise or honor his wife. He made fun of her a lot. He knew Proverbs 31 and agreed with it, I’m sure, even probably thought he was acting on it, but he was not. He might have thought his thoughts were pure, but his actions spoke louder that his thoughts. When his wife died he claimed to have lost his companion. That’s too bad. I know another couple who were so one with each other that when one of them died, the other died too. My dad only lost a companion. My dad was, for the most part, silent. He was locked up inside himself. I can only assume he wanted it that way. He didn’t want to engage. And in the last few years of his lonely life, he succumbed completely to what the movie “Never Ending Story” calls “the Nothing.”

But he was my dad; so he was the best dad for me. I must make peace with this, because I see many of the same things at work in me, and if I let resentment and hatred rule, I will most certainly become what I hate. It’s human nature. I can see it working. I have spent hours with my own sons in silence, unwilling to climb out of myself and engage. I have to fight the Nothing. Far too much of my personhood has already been eroded away by it.

In spite of all this, my dad is my dad, and he was the best dad for me, so I forgive him and love him. I must do this or I, too, will be swallowed up by the Nothing.

The best news in all of this is that we have a heavenly Father who is making everything right — even our wrongs. He is redeeming our lives and our histories. And He has given us His Spirit which cries out “Abba Dad” inside us. We know our Father and we are covered by His grace. When my kids tell me I’m a good dad, I can only think of grace. That is a pure statement of grace because I know that I am not. Our “Abba Dad” is already starting to make things right.

So that is why my conclusion for Father’s Day is: Good dad. Bad dad. My dad. “Abba Dad.”

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10 Responses to Good dad. Bad dad. My dad. “Abba Dad.”

  1. Cynthia Vera says:

    John,
    You being aware of these things, and knowing about being locked inside yourself and about the nothing has brought light and growth to many as you reveal your very real struggle. You, take off the mask, over and over, you surrender and even when you do not Christ is in you, he is the aroma of life coming from you! Amen
    Cynthia

  2. Wayne Bridegroom says:

    Hey there old room mate
    Your dad appears to have had great similarities to my dad except for the spiritual aspect. I have only talked to one man our age who says that his dad told him that he loved him – an emotionally locked generation. In all probability they did not even recognize it as a problem. Blind spots. Makes me wonder what blind spots our generation of men have that we don’t see.
    Grateful for you
    Wayne

  3. Mark D Seguin says:

    Dear Pastor John, I think / believe you are a good man that’s taught me to love our Lord Jesus more & to surely be more open minded too…..

  4. The one thing about parenting is the influence never ends even after death.
    Whether for better or worse, we carry our parents’ influence with us just as they carried their parents’ with them and our children will carry ours.
    Whether we like it or not, our parents – natural, adoptive, surrogate, foster, or others – are the ones whom God assigned to us.
    Whatever life lessons we’ve learned, behavioral patterns we’ve observed, and relational skills we’ve acquired, we have been given the blessed opportunity to emulate the positive characteristics and eliminate the negative traits which we’ve gleaned through our upbringing.
    There is a purpose for what was, what is, and what can be.
    We must daily ask our Abba Dad for wisdom, guidance, sensitivity, and sensibility if we truly want to be a reflection of Him to others, and to fulfill our longing to be the apple of His eye.
    It’s one of the finest ways to honor the memory of our earthly parents…

  5. Sandie says:

    I think the WEEKEND ENCOURAGEMENT message is very pertinent.
    I, too, had/have parental issue, but with my mom. As she has gotten older though (in the past year or so) she has changed and mellowed – actually seems happy instead of bitter. Though I determined to NEVER treat my kids in the manner she treated me and my brother, I managed to make different mistakes, even outright sins.
    I realized my mom’s emotional mistakes, riddled with generating guilt, were not done in malice or deliberate choice. I know she was trying her best and there was much good she put in our lives. I have forgiven my mom, and thank God my kids have forgiven me and lavish love and respect every chance they can. God is good. I think the difference was I was honest with them and asked forgiveness which they thankfully gave.

    “MEET YOU ALL THE WAY
    Since when does God do anything halfway?
    There is no halfway to love. Love goes all the way. Halfway leaves you dangling on a bridge to nowhere, waiting for the other person to come to you, and that may be something they may not be willing or able to do.
    Love doesn’t make deals. It doesn’t negotiate. If you’ll do this, I will do that. That is not grace. Grace is not conditional. Grace is not predicated on on getting anything from the other. It is just given. Grace reaches all the way across any barrier.
    So, if we are going to build bridges instead of walls, our bridges need to go all the way across. God does not put any conditions on His love for us, and if we are turning His grace outward to others, it’s the same unconditional love we will give out to others. Otherwise, it is not from God.
    Think about this, then: in a relationship where either party is prepared to go all the way across to meet the other, then there is a good chance there will be a coming together. That bridge is going to be built. Whereas, if each is only willing to go halfway, there’s no guarantee they will ever reach each other. When it comes to bridge-building, we need to each be committed to building the whole bridge.”
    AMEN

    • jwfisch says:

      I love it when my words come back to help me.

      • Sandie says:

        ME TOO! I believe it’s the Holy spirit reinforcing truth; things we already know. It’s affirmation and exhortation wrapped together. A while back (when my hair was REALLY blonde!), someone wrote. “Making Real What I Already Believe. Hmmm.
        Bless you for laying it out there, even when it’s really tough!

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