As we celebrate Father’s Day, we often think about the wisdom our fathers have passed on to us. My own dad has shared this life lesson with me many times through the years, but fittingly, he hasn’t always shared it in words. He has led by example.
I know what my dad believes because of how he acts:
My dad believes it’s important to be punctual. He doesn’t always speak the words, but when he consistently leaves the house fifteen minutes earlier than he said he would, we are reminded that he truly believes “Early is on time and on time is late.”
My dad believes gossip is wrong and hurtful. He doesn’t lecture or scold on this issue; he just turns and walks away if talk turns to gossip.
My dad plays to win. In games and in life, he invests himself in ways that matter. He’s not just hanging around to pass the time; rather, he wants to spend his time on things that make a difference in this world.
Invest In What Matters
American pastor and writer A.W. Tozer claimed, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” In other words, what we believe about God matters. Our beliefs matter because they fuel our actions. Our words may say one thing, but it is our actions that reveal what we truly believe.
Tozer’s statement echoes scripture. Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.” (The Message). Another translation of this verse says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (New International Version).
So, what beliefs do my own actions reveal? If I’m being honest, I’m afraid my actions often reveal my tendency to be anxious, my desire to control everything around me, and my confusion about exactly who I am.
When I fear the future, my actions reveal that I believe that I must solve all my own problems, that no one is watching over me to offer provision or protection. When I panic when suffering comes, my actions reveal that I believe my life is supposed to be perfect and easy, that someone has left their post and is not taking care of me as they should.
When I hurry as if the whole day will collapse without my efforts to sustain it, my actions reveal a belief that I am on my own to make this thing work. When I strive to control others and situations, my actions reveal that I believe I am in charge of the world, that my way is the best way, that other people need me to watch out for them.
When I seek the praise of others, my actions reveal that I believe my worth comes from what other people think about me. When I compare myself to others, my actions reveal a belief that I have been short changed, that I am missing out on something, that I’m not getting what I “deserve.” When I feel discouraged and disappointed in who I am — in my physical features, in my personality, in my weaknesses and flaws — my actions reveal that I believe I somehow deserve to be more than human, that I should not have to deal with the messes I make, that I should not have to endure the inconvenience of having human needs and moods.
When I focus on my needs, desires, and flaws, my actions reveal that I believe in myself and my own efforts; these actions do not reveal a belief that I was created by a Creator.
But, scripture tells us that we are, in fact, created by a Creator, and that this Creator invites us to be not only his creation, but also His children.
Galatians 3:26 says “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” And this truth is emphasized further in Galatians 4:7, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” Isn’t this good news? We were created by a God who loves us so much that He desires to call us His own children. He wants us to call him our Father!
I might say I believe in God and His love for me, but sometimes my actions make me wonder. I either believe God loves me and has good intentions toward me, or I don’t believe it. And that makes all the difference.
If I believe I am a child of God, this belief changes everything.
From Fear to Peace
Instead of fearing the future, I can trust God and have peace. 1 Peter 5:7 instructs us to “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.” We are assured that He will not overlook our needs. Philippians 4:19 states, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
Instead of panicking at the first sign of suffering, I can have hope and expect God’s best for me. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12).
Even those things that come into our lives and look like disasters can be used by God to our benefit. Instead of despairing when things go wrong, I can lean on the reassurance of Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Learning to Trust
Instead of hurrying, I can wait and rest. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord,” (Psalm 27:14) In Isaiah 26:3 we find this promise: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” Rather than stressing over my to-do list and scurrying around trying to make everything happen according to my own plan, I can heed the words of Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
Instead of striving to control others and insisting on my own way, I can “Trust in the Lord with all [my] heart, and lean not on [my] own understanding; In all [my] ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct [my] paths” (Proverbs 3:5-7). It’s a lot of pressure to believe that everything depends on me; scripture reminds me that I can relax my grip and trust that He knows what He’s doing.
Instead of seeking the praise of others, I can delight in His approval of me, clinging to the truth that “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Psalm 118:6-8).
- Instead of comparing myself to others, I can believe God’s promises to bless me: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) In the book of Psalms, David describes God’s care for us as a shepherd caring for his sheep. He says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:1-2). I lack nothing. Comparing myself to others is a bad habit that grows out of a belief that God is holding out on me and not giving me something that I need, but David’s imagery here reminds me that this simply isn’t true. And instead of feeling discouraged by my weaknesses and flaws, I can lean into the promise of Romans 5:20: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.”
Instead of focusing on my needs, desires, and flaws,
I can fix my eyes on my Father’s strengths and His goodness and His faithfulness.
Ways to strengthen your belief that God is your Father:
- Read the Word.
- Notice and remember God’s love for you and daily accept His invitation to live as His child.
- Watch your words.
- Are you putting yourself down? Are you complaining about yourself or about your circumstances in life? Use your words to remind yourself of your true identity in Him.
- Treat others well.
- Remember that each person you encounter has, like you, been created by a Creator and has been invited by grace into a relationship with their Father.
- Pay attention to your thoughts.
- Watch your attitudes and actions to see how deeply your identity as God’s child has taken root in your heart. When you hit a tough time and need the reminder, go back to step 1 and get into the Word.
Your Father God will meet you there and
remind you that you are His child.
“I’m a wife, mommy, teacher, writer, reader, and child of God.”