My dad is really cool. I could spend multiple days with him and not get tired of whatever we find to do. We often will go on Saturday road trips and visit a new-to-us coffee shop or restaurant, or we’ll just sit and watch a ball game together. We can spend the day laughing at whatever mishap I’ve gotten myself into lately, or just talking about what God is teaching us both at the time. I can honestly say God blessed me with extremely genuine, and Christ-filled parents. My thanks for that can’t even be put into words.

Something that has been so cool about my dad and I’s relationship is the shape and dynamic it has taken on over the years. There were times I was so stubborn and childish I only saw the times he said no, as his way of being a mean dad. There were times when I learned something from him, and he learned something from me. There were times when we disagreed and we fought. There were times when my eyes were opened to his deep love and care he had for me. Then there were many that I just wanted to do what I wanted to do, regardless of what he had told me I was to do. Often times, I tested the waters and made things difficult on him. He was doing something then that I am so grateful for now; disciplining me.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his Father?
— Hebrews 12:7

I remember reading this passage and this particular verse for the first time and it really sticking with me. Suddenly it all clicked; the things my dad had done for me for so long, all the no’s he had told me, the places he hadn’t let me go, the roads he redirected me out of. All of it had purpose. My dad’s discipline was teaching me, and even though it wasn’t fun while it was happening, the bigger picture that I could see years later was amazing. There were things I had wanted to do as a teenager, that I couldn’t see what was ahead but my dad had already been there had knew. He chose to discipline me, even when I didn’t want him to, and in fact almost disliked him for it. When my eyes were opened to this realization, I then understood the even bigger/better picture.

“Besides this, we have earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as best they knew how, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”
— Hebrews 12:9-10

 God, my Heavenly Father, is so good. He disciplines me in hardships, he takes me further than I could ever go on my own because He sees and knows what’s ahead. He tells me no, He redirects my steps, and He takes me through new and unknown-by-me places. Sometimes He even lets me do things my way, only to let me fall flat on my face when my own plans fail, just so I can see that His way is always better. The thing is that is painful and uncomfortable. In fact, it requires me to say that my comfort is not greater than the calling God has placed on my life as His child. God has called me to obedience, often times that’s hard. Often times, it hurts and it’s messy. But we have this hope through it:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
— Hebrews 12:11

God sees the end. He knows what’s coming next and is always pruning and preparing us for the way ahead. Our calling as his children is to say yes to whatever is ahead, and he will use the discipline that we might share in His holiness. God is doing this in many of the lives of his sons and daughters right now, because He cares more about where you are going on your journey with Him, than where you have been. He wants to spur you on and deepen your love and walk with Him. He can’t do that without those things that pull us close to his side. Let the hardships be what God has allowed them to be. He didn’t just put you through something to be mean and say “HA!” He has purpose in it all. Find that heavenly purpose in the trials, and live for it daily.

Father’s Day is a time for many to rejoice and spend time celebrating their dad. It’s also a day on which many are grieving and seeking comfort in the lack of a father’s presence. I do not know that hardship personally, but I know that life is fleeting and that could be a reality at any moment. Many people have never known the comfort of a Father, and my heart truly aches for any one that this might be true for.

If this Father’s Day is a hardship for you, let the Lord use it. He intends to use every part of our lives as Christians to bring Him glory, and part of that is deepening our love and trust in him. If this Father’s day is a day you look forward to as a dad, ask yourself; am I leading and disciplining my children in a way that leads them towards Christ? And remember, there’s no such thing as “just being there”. You either are leading them closer, or you are leading them farther from God.

What kind of Father do your kids see you being? Will they see the intentions behind all that you did was for their ultimate good? Maybe you’re not a father, and you’ve never had one. Know this: God created you as His child. A human’s love could never surpass His. Seek out that love He has as a Father for a child. He will prove His love to you time and time again, even though He already has, through the work of his perfect Son on the cross.

This Father’s Day has the ability to be so much for more of us than just the fathers, so what will it be for you? How will you let this Father’s Day draw you to your Heavenly Father? If you do not yet know the Heavenly Father, will you know Him?

- Haley Swihart
Acts 1:8 Intern

Me and my dad

Me and my dad