June is one of the most exciting months of the year, filled with anticipation and a whole lot of joy for just about everyone. Summer is beginning, the school year is ending, young people are graduating from high school and college, and folks everywhere are looking forward to vacations, family trips, get-togethers, and sun-filled weekends of picnics, barbecues, and other good times.
And right at the center of a lot of those good times are the dads we celebrate on that one special day in June called Father’s Day. It’s a day set aside to thank the men who helped bring us into the world, recall the good times we’ve enjoyed, and honor them in every way we can. Laurie and I are both grateful for the fathers we were blessed with, and thankful for the legacies they passed on to us of loving God and reaching others with His hope and grace.
Of course, I know from my own experience as a dad that at their best every father is imperfect and falls far short of all he would like to be and do for his kids. And it’s certainly no secret that many individuals struggle with memories of fathers who were abusive, unengaged, distant, or absent.
The good news is that, regardless of what kind of earthly father we had, through Jesus each of us has access to a heavenly Father who loves us without measure, is ever present in our lives, and is absolutely committed to our good. And for fathers who have fallen short, God extends the promise of forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and reconciliation (Malachi 4:6) because of the finished work of Jesus.
Nowhere is the life-changing truth of the Father heart of God more evident than in 1 John 3:1, which declares: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”
Recently Laurie and I sat down with singer and worship leader Michael W. Smith to talk about his own dad, and what he learned from him about the true character of the heavenly Father. Michael has laid it all out in his just-published book, The Way of the Father: Lessons From My Dad, Truths About God.
Calling his dad his personal hero, Michael writes that Paul Smith was the “kindest, gentlest man I have ever known. The person in my life who was always the most like Jesus to me and consistently reflected the qualities of my Abba Father.”
A blue-collar worker in a Kentucky oil refinery for over forty years, Paul effectively modeled to his son the behavior and attitude of a man committed to excellence in what God had given him to do. “Even if he was sick, injured, or exhausted, all those years he was at his station working the swing shift,” writes Michael. “His work ethic and commitment to his coworkers were only surpassed by his love for his God and our family.”
Throughout the book Michael writes of how his dad mirrored the heart of the heavenly Father — and the servant heart of Jesus — through his deep love, support, care, and commitment to his family, his compassion toward others, and in his faithfulness to his place and purpose in life.
Even in the years when Michael drifted from his faith, his dad and mom never stopped believing in him and praying for him. And throughout Michael’s career in Christian music, no one was a bigger support than his father. “If there’s any good in me — other than God at work in my life,” Michael once said, “it’s because of my dad.”
Sadly, notes Michael, that presence of godly fathers is growing less and less common. “In our culture today, I am well aware that many people don’t have my testimony of strong, godly parents,” he writes. “There was not a great father who reflected the image of God. Not even a good father. For some, no father at all. But part of the great news of the gospel is that
God was the first and the ultimate Father, so He can father you. In fact, He wants to father you. He longs to father you. At any age and any stage of life, He is there, ready. Regardless of the presence or absence of your dad or your mom, God can be a Father to you.”
Reading those words, I can’t help but reflect on how closely they parallel the vision and mission that is at the heart of all we do here at TBN. Across the earth there are untold millions — even billions — of individuals in need of a father’s love and care. And for nearly fifty years the core message threading its way through every program we air is that there is a heavenly Father who gave His most precious Son to adopt us into His forever family. That same heavenly Father promises to protect us (Psalm 23), guide us (Psalm 32:8), provide for us (Matthew 6:31-33), and to never, ever leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Friend, we could never overstate the importance of your prayer and partnership with TBN as we deliver this crucial message of the Father’s love to individuals around the world. Thank you for standing with us. Eternity alone will reveal the fruit of your commitment to this ministry.
Our love and prayers for you always,
Matt and Laurie Crouch