Just as Miss Anna Jarvis is credited for giving “birth” to “Mothers Day”, Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd is credited for triggering an action that led to Father’s Day becoming a U.S. national holiday.
Her story began as she sat listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Mrs. Dodd thought that it might be nice to honor fathers as well. Her father, William Smart, had raised his six children alone on his farm in Washington after his wife died giving birth to their sixth child. Mrs. Dodd proposed to the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA that they celebrate a “Father’s day.” She chose the 5th of June because it was her father’s birthday. The idea received strong support, but the good ministers of Spokane asked that the day be changed to give them extra time to prepare sermons on the unexplored subject of fathers.
The first Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington, was observed on June 19, 1910 (the third Sunday in June), and became an annual, albeit not “official” event there. After many twists and turns,”Father’s Day” finally got its official seal of approval in 1972 (when President Richard Nixon was president).
On careful scrutiny of the Scriptures, a discerning Bible student would discover that not until Jesus the Saviour started addressing the Almighty as the Heavenly Father in New Testament was the word “Father” used so extensively in connection with the Almighty-Devotee relationship. In fact, the Greek word “Pater”, meaning Father, is repeated about 200 times in the New Testament. Meanwhile, in all of the Old Testament, the word “Father” is only used a few times, 15 according to Bibilcal scholars, to describe God. At this point, it would be no exaggeration to say that the Saviour, by His advent,virtually redefined the God-Man relationship.
With the World bracing itself to celebrate Father’s day on the 17th of June, yours truly is inspired to write this series of 3 parts tobring out the similarities between our Heavenly Father and our wonderful earthly fathers, while ever focusing on our response to their great love.
In the same way our earthly fathers play a role in bringing us to life, our Heavenly Father, through His revitalizing Spirit, also gives us supernaturallya brand new life (see John 1:12-13), happeningthe moment we place our trust in the redemption work of the cross that was completed by the Saviour to save us from our sins. In fact, in the matter of a Christian’s ”sonship” and his new-found inclination towards “holiness”, the Greek word used for “seed” in 1 John 3:9 (“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. NIV) is “sperma”,the root word for “sperm” in English.
An earthly father’s features (facial and emotional) are bound to be reflected in his offspring (eg…Adam and Seth- Gen 5:3). Ditto with a new Christian. If holiness is intrinsic to our Heavenly Father, His children, too, will reflect holiness (“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” Eph 5:1 NLT), which is all about being “separate” from the World (2 Cor 6:17-18). Here “separation” doesn’t mean “isolation” in the manner of Saffron-clad Sadhus confining themselves to snow-clad Himalayas. Rather, it is all about not being tainted by the carnal world despite the fact that we live in it:“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27 NLT).
No earthly father would allow any danger to befall his beloved children. Our Heavenly Father would also guard us under His protective wings (John 6:39/ John 10:28-29) whatever be the enticement of the flesh, the world or the Devil. Power is always granted from within to triumph over the inevitable spiritual dangers without (“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NLT).
Which Earthly Father doesn’t delight in giving the best of the materially useful things to his children? Our Heavenly Father doesn’t retract from giving His best to us either, in order for us to have a perfectly fulfilling life (Matt 6:33, Matt 7:11/ 1Tim 6:17). With the perpetual joy of the Holy Spirit, which He places us in our heart at the point of regeneration, every human activity, even the mundane ones, would now seem enjoyable. Yes, thanks to Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross, God’s children today enjoy an “abundant life” (“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 NLT)!
Prayer: Father, first of all we are full of gratitude to address You thus because of the Redemptive work completed by Your Son on the Cross. Enable us to live a life worthy of our Sonship. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
(To access the entire “ABBA, Father!” mini-series, please click here.)