Who’s the best dad of all time? Just kidding. It’s Marlin from Finding Nemo. The dude’s a clownfish who took on the whole ocean just to get his kid back. No contest. Who’s the worst? Anakin Skywalker? Thanos? Buddy the Elf’s dad whose name I forget? Those are some seriously bad dads.
Dads are important. They’re protectors, leaders and nurturers. Everybody wants to have a dad like Marlin—and nobody wants a Mr. Buddy the Elf’s Dad. But not all of us are lucky enough to have a dad like in the movies, right?
Pause. If you haven’t already, pull up Psalm 23. The verse starts off by calling God our “shepherd.” (That makes us sheep. Flattering, right?) Do you know what a shepherd does for his sheep? If you said that he protects, guides, and nurtures them, you’d be 100% correct. He keeps them safe from danger, guides them through the wilderness, and takes care of their every need. See the connection?
You might not have the best relationship with your dad. Maybe he’s hard to talk to, feels distant, or he’s not around at all. Maybe you trusted him to protect you from something and got hurt when he didn’t. Whoever your dad is, he’s a human being and that means that at some point he’s failed you.
But there is good news: God is a dad who never fails. In the Bible, Jesus tells a story about a father who has two sons. The first son is responsible and hardworking, but angry and resentful. The second son has problems, too. He’s lazy, he doesn’t care about his family, and he’s so selfish that he takes half of his dad’s money and runs off to waste it all on partying. It isn’t until the money runs out that the second son realizes his mistake. He decides that he has to humble himself and go home—even though he knows his family will be angry with him. And he’s right! His brother is angry with him… but his father isn’t. When the second son arrives home, his dad cries with joy and welcomes him in. He throws a huge party because he’s so grateful that his son came back to him.
Maybe you understand why the first son was angry. Didn’t the second son suck? But this story is all about how God doesn’t work how we work. The first son messed up too—he harbored resentment and anger against his brother. But God doesn’t do that. The father in the story loves both of his sons even when they sucked. God welcomes us home even when we don’t deserve it. He promises to be a good dad always and he’ll never break that promise.
Psalm 23 tells us that when we’re in God’s care, we’re never hungry or abandoned—and we feel so safe that we can lie down and rest easy. Maybe it’s hard for you to imagine having a dad like that, but you do! If we believe God really is the good dad that he says he is, we can trust him with anything.
This week, try to identify the thing that you don’t trust God with. Every day, say this short prayer: God, I believe you’re a good dad and you’re taking care of me. I trust you with (fill in the blank). Amen.
Seem simple? It is—because God really is who he says he is.