You are my son

And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

(Mark 1:11 NIV)

Father’s Day is such a great day. It is a difficult day for me, but it is a great day. I love my dad Phil; he brings me so much joy. I long to be like him. I know he sins, and struggles, but he is an amazing dad. I just lost my father-in-law, George. I recently sat on my patio on a Zoom call with my wife’s family, sharing our remembrances of him as an all-in sort of guy.

I cannot tell you how many times I have sinned against my kids. I have always struggled with pride, trying to prove myself, especially as a dad. I can remember being a kid, and hearing my father tell me that he loved me and was proud of me. These words were like rocket fuel for my soul. I know when I say this to my children, they feel known, loved, and cared for—and that is life-giving to them.

But here is the unceasing question that plays in my mind: Does God feel the same way toward me as I feel toward my children? Does he just put up with me, or does he delight in me? Recently I finished the book, I Am Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers, by Tim Madigan. In this book, Madigan talks about the power of those four words when Mr. Rogers said them to him. He describes how they slowly transformed his life, allowing him to feel safe and secure in the love of another, not based on how good he was, but simply because he was Mr. Rogers’s friend.

Here is the beauty of the gospel: God does not see us as mere friends; he sees us as his righteous children.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10 ESV)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

(Galatians 4:4–7 NIV)

If you are anything like me, you struggle to believe those words are true. You look at the ways you fail, even though you sometimes grow in your dad-ing and you are dissatisfied. You have faith this is true about you, but faith is not always straightforward. I long to hear the words the Father spoke over the Son spoken over me. I long to hear God say to me, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

And here is the striking truth for us fathers on Father’s Day. This is how God thinks about you and about me! No matter how hard it is to believe, Dad: When God the Father looks at you, he sees the righteousness of Christ. And that is good news for Father’s Day. Despite your struggles, your burdens, your failures, God looks at you and is happy you are his child. He isn’t ashamed of you, he doesn’t hate you. He isn’t disgusted by your failure or impressed by your success. He looks at you and says, “I love you and I am well pleased with you.”

BETWEEN US GUYS: LIFE-CHANGING CONVERSATIONS FOR DADS & SONS

This easy-to-use, life-changing book for fathers and sons gives readers the tools to have important talks about life, faith, and being a man. With a conversational and captivating tone, fathers and other caregivers are guided into having gospel-focused conversations with boys ages six to ten about a wide range of topics from social justice and friendships to money, anger, and more.

About the author

Joel Fitzpatrick

Joel Fitzpatrick has served as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America with a focus on youth and family. He received his MDiv from Westminster Seminary California. Joel lives in Southern California with his wife of nearly twenty years and their two children. He is the coauthor of Mom, Dad . . . What’s Sex? and contributed chapters to The Sinner and Saints Devotional: 60 Days in the Psalms. His latest release is Between Us Guys: Life-Changing Conversations for Dads and Sons.

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Joel Fitzpatrick

Joel Fitzpatrick has served as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America with a focus on youth and family. He received his MDiv from Westminster Seminary California. Joel lives in Southern California with his wife of nearly twenty years and their two children. He is the coauthor of Mom, Dad . . . What’s Sex? and contributed chapters to The Sinner and Saints Devotional: 60 Days in the Psalms. His latest release is Between Us Guys: Life-Changing Conversations for Dads and Sons.

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