God’s Love Shown Through a Dad

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)

My dad was not known as an outwardly affectionate man. Yet, I remember one night when he showed me a measure of love that all fathers should allow their sons to see.

When I was 12 years old, I had been nominated for the most coveted Little League Baseball award in my hometown. It was yesterday’s Most Valuable Player Award for the Little Leaguer.

My dad told me that the awards committee had narrowed the list of finalists down to three. While I had made the list, the jury was still out on the winner. He shared with me that the committee had decided to closely evaluate each of our performances in the upcoming all-star tournament before selecting the winner.

I had a great tournament. I hit two home runs in one game and pitched a shutout in another. There’s just not much more that I could have done to convince the judges to vote for me.

The award was always presented during the intermission of a minor league baseball game of a team that played in my hometown. My dad told me not to get my hopes up and reminded that the competition was very keen.

Well to make a long story short, someone else won the award. I was crushed. I lived only a few blocks from the stadium and raced home so no one would see how upset I really was.

When I got home, I ran to my bedroom and began to cry uncontrollably. My dad came in to comfort me. He had known for several days that I was not the winner, but just didn’t have the heart to tell me.

What he did have the heart to do though was to take the time to be a loving father. As I lay on the bed with my face buried in my pillow, he just quietly rubbed my back. I don’t remember a thing he said, but I will never forget that back rub. It healed all the soreness that came from losing.

My dad showed me the unconditional love that God talks about in the Bible. I think of him when I think about the Parable of the Prodigal Son. While most of us focus of the son in that story, God also told us a lot about how a father should respond to a child who has experienced a crushing defeat.

Go back and read Luke 15:11-24. Even though the father portrayed in the story is God, the qualities that are being shown are godly qualities that can be seen in the life of any earthly father.

That Parable of the Prodigal Son teaches us that we should show love and forgiveness for our children at all times, especially when they fail to live up to our expectations. It should not go unnoticed that the father of this prodigal son ran to his son when he returned home, embraced him, and held a banquet in his honor, in spite of the fact that he chose to live life in the fast lane, and squandered a fortune in the process. How many of today’s fathers would show such unconditional love and forgiveness in similar circumstances?

That Little League award I didn’t get can never compare to the circumstances in which the prodigal son found himself. But the love my dad showed for me that night does. He let me know that he’d always be there for me when the chips were down, when things just couldn’t seem to get any worse. He showed me the love of God. And even though he has long since gone on to be with the Lord, God’s love continues to embrace me today.

For that I will be eternally grateful.

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