Summary: Father’s Day is a day to honor our father, our Heavenly Father. Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son is a pure reflection of a loving father and what it means to come home on Father’s Day.

Dads, today is our day, but Father’s Day has somehow never been held in as high regard as Mother’s Day. Mother’s just have that certain something. After all, whenever you see someone holding a sign or mouthing “hello,” they’re saying, “Hi, Mom,” and usually not, “Hi Dad.” Now, I’m not complaining, it’s not sour grapes, but that’s just the way it is. I shared Erma Bombeck’s description of God creating mothers on Mother’s Day, and I’d like to share her description of God creating fathers.

When the good Lord was creating fathers, he started with a tall frame. A female angel nearby said, “What kind of father is that? If you’re going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers up so high? He won’t be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending, or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping.” God smiled and said, “Yes, but if I make him child-size, who would children have to look up to?” And when God made a father’s hands, they were large and sinewy.

The angel shook her head sadly and said, “Do you know what you’re doing? Large hands are clumsy. They can’t manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on pony tails, or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats.”

God smiled and said, “I know, but they’re large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day, yet small enough to cup a child’s face.” And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders.

The angel nearly had a heart attack, “Boy, this is the end of the week, all right. Do you realize you just made a father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?”

God smiled and said, “A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle, or hold a sleepy hand on the way home from the circus.”

God was in the process of creating two of the largest feet anyone had ever seen when the angel could contain herself no longer, “That not fair. Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?”

God smiled and said, “They’ll work. You’ll see. They’ll support a small child who wants to ride a horse to Banbury Cross, or scare off mice at the summer cabin, or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill.”

God worked through out the night, giving the father few words, but a firm, authoritative voice, eyes that saw everything, but remained calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an afterthought, he added tears. Then he turned to the angel and said, “Now are you satisfied that he can love as much as a mother?”

Some of us can identify with Bombeck’s characterization, either because of fond memories of growing up with our own father, or maybe because we see ourselves as the father whose feet are too big to crawl out of bed when the baby cries. Whatever the reason, we’re here today to honor fathers.

But we must recognize that days set aside to honor particular people or relationships can also be painful days. For some, your relationship with your father was or possibly is still strained and holds painful memories. For others, it’s a mixture of joy and sadness, for you have fond memories of your father, but that’s all you have now, because he is deceased. I also think of the fathers who mourn the death of a child and how Father’s Day holds a certain emptiness. I also think of a good friend of mine who desperately wants to be a father, but he and his wife are unable to conceive. Father’s Day is a yearly reminder of that void.

Recognizing that today brings together a multitude of emotions, instead of praising fathers for their invaluable roles, or admonishing fathers to pick up the slack a little bit, I’d rather turn our attention to our Heavenly Father, and focus on His characteristics as the perfect parent, celebrating who he is.

For some of us, our relationship and understanding of our Heavenly Father is about love and comfort, peace and security. But for some, that’s not the case, whether you’re struggling with who God is and how you relate to him as your Heavenly Father, or whether you’re somewhere in between, the image of the father in today’s scripture is one of the more pure, grace-filled descriptions of who our Heavenly Father is. Some have referred to this parable as the greatest short story in the world.

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