by Dannah Gresh
The most powerful description of God in the Scriptures is "Father." Many of us view God as an angry father who will do good for us only if we beg, and maybe He won't even respond then. We consider prayer to be this begging and pleading with God to give us the littlest scraps of happiness. This makes prayer exhausting.
This is not how God is. He blesses us with all kinds of things. He's not keeping count of our devotions any more than a loving father judges his son on how many goals he scores in a soccer game. My love for my son Robby is unconditional. He's just begun his first year at college and I miss him so much. I bless him as much as I can. When he asked me how to do laundry before he moved onto his campus, I answered, "Step one: Call mom. Step two: Come home with laundry. Step three: Eat delicious home cooked meal while mom does laundry and get to sleep in comfy bed that night!" He's been home nearly every weekend, and I cherish every moment! I love him unconditionally and seek to bless him at all times. And, at his worst, I love him no less. I accept him for who he is, not for what he can do. God does the same thing. He is a Father who never forsakes me, but holds me and cherishes me like I do Robby.
All of us need the blessing of a father. My dad, Dan Barker, is a father who has exemplified the father blessing in an extraordinary manner. Through my adult years, he's blessed my family and my brother's family, too. He helped us each buy our first home and invites us to go on trips to Australia, Disney and other great places where he shoots off some of the world's greatest fireworks shows. He's there at every crisis to advise. He is a great dad. But one particular holiday season we were all invited to a mysterious dinner. No one was told why, but only immediate family members could attend. That's unusual in a home where "everyone" is always invited. We all came with overwhelming curiosity.
After dinner, my dad ceremoniously presented, "The Barker Family Proclamation." Clearing his throat, he began to read. We listened intently. The document recounted the growth of the family through the years, the wonderful accomplishments of the past year, and the hopes of the future. It ended with, "Now therefore, Walter Daniel and Kay Francis Barker, parents of the Barker family (and the Greshes, too), do hereby confirm the blessings of our generation on each and every member of the Barker family now and in the future to include those members of the Barker family yet to be conceived but known only to God and do declare that this past year was an exceptional blessing and should be commemorated in this proclamation and noted forever!"
Wow! I felt so amazed. I was a part of this. I had someone watching me and believing in me. There were expectations for my future and someone to cheer me on to meet those expectations. I felt blessed. That's the father blessing.
Ultimately, the father blessing says two things. In Matthew 3, we see God the Father modeling the father blessing for us. Jesus is baptized and God the Father comes down and says, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." That's all we need from a dad. We need to hear him say, "He or she is mine!" and "I'm proud!" Each of us deeply desires to know that blessing.
As a mother or father, how can you take the time to create an opportunity to say that to your family?
Dannah Gresh has been married to her husband Bob for nearly twenty years. This article is a revision of something they wrote together for Bob's book, Who Moved the Goalpost?, the guys' version of Dannah's best-selling book And the Bride Wore White. Dannah's newest line-up of Secret Keeper Girl products is for tweens and creates ways for moms and daughters to connect. You can learn more at www.secretkeepergirl.com.