When I was a little girl, my Girl Scout troop attended a father–daughter square dance.

It was a fun evening of “swing your partner” and “do-si-do” and, after a full night, my dad treated me to a hot fudge brownie sundae at our local Big Boy restaurant.

I remember how special I felt on those square dancing nights with my dad and mmm… that hot fudge was good!

Dads are important aren’t they?

Unfortunately, not all of us have happy memories of our fathers. For some reason or other, our relationships may be soured, tainted, or even nonexistent.

I spoke with a friend once whose experience with her dad was way different than my own.

You see, her dad was an alcoholic who cheated on her mom. And the hurt is still there, even though years have passed and her dad is now gone.

I’ve heard that our relationship with God often duplicates our own relationship with our earthly dads.

Because I was blessed with a good relationship with my dad, it was an easy thing for me to receive the free gift of salvation as a teenager.

But my friend still struggles.

She yearns to know God, but she’s got a brick wall around her heart that she can’t seem to get through. She reads his Word without understanding and gets frustrated at the distance she feels from him.

No doubt, my friend needs some inner healing, and I know God can do that. He yearns to show her the love of a true father, but you know my friend has to be ready and willing, and I don’t think she’s there yet.

Understanding the fatherhood of God can be difficult for some. Do you know that Jesus set a pattern for us to pray to God as “our father?”

And in Romans 8:15-16 it says, “you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

And do you know what the translation of Abba is? It’s an Aramaic word that communicates the deep intimacy that takes place between parents and children.

I’ve heard people say it means “daddy.”

Does our God desire to know us only from a distance?

No way.

There is a deep, intimate relationship our God yearns to have with each one of us. How amazing is it that the creator of the universe longs to have this with you and me!

Whether you’ve had a dad that makes it easy for you to receive the love of our heavenly father or not, God still longs to hold you in his arms and hear you call him “daddy.”

My husband is outside with our little girl as I write this. Patiently, he’s following her around as they experience a few minutes of father–daughter time.

As I peek through the window at the pair, I notice that she’s leading him to my perennial garden and pointing out the pretty blooms.

Knowing that he’s not much of a “flower guy,” I find myself smiling and thinking about his patience with her. He’s building a relationship that will hopefully someday make it an easy transition for her to know her heavenly “daddy.”

Who’s your daddy?

This Father’s Day, let’s do some soul searching. It might hurt a little—and take some healing, but isn’t it worth it so you can live confidently as a child of God?

Debra Torres is a Christian copywriter spreading the light of Jesus through her Who is God blog, where she attempts to answer one of mankind’s biggest questions: “Who is God?” Using heartfelt Christian devotions, Debra takes her readers on a journey of discovery helping them experience the nature of God for themselves.

Being a father may sometimes feel like you are a caged gerbil.

In the cage of your role as a father, do you run round and round on the wheel, doing the most that you can the best that you can? Are you afraid of getting off the wheel? Do you want to avoid ever getting on the wheel? Or do you run around the cage freely, without need of the wheel?

No one ever said being a father was easy. This weekend, there will be the obligatory gifts and cards and favorite foods shared, but then Father’s Day will be over for another year.

What about us dads? Do we go about fathering like a gerbil or is there another way to parent?

It’s easy for me to look back and see my own faults, especially when my kids were young. I travelled too much. I spoke too often without listening enough. I made too much time for myself and not enough for those whom I really loved.

“You only live once.”

That’s the mantra most of us accept in this life as we live in a world that teaches that “you” come first, and not even those you love will surpass your own importance.

As a father of grown children – two still living – I see my role at this point in life to encourage other dads, especially those with young children, to have an impact on what their children will become.

I began to see this more clearly over a year ago when the president of AWANA invited me to spend the night in a cell on death row at the infamous Angola Prison. Most of the inmates have murdered and are now living their lives in a state that does not grant parole.

But it was my friend, Jack Eggar, who wanted me to see that dads who would never get out of the institution could still show their sons and daughters the love of Christ.

In fact, many of these dads had met Jesus and were then called to do the impossible … love their kids from the inside.

These men took seriously the words of Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, not sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

With King James English, they delighted in the Lord and were growing as trees bearing fruit. Psalm 1 is for me, and every father, an encouragement to be the fathers we never were.

Thank you, Jack, for letting me see that fathering is all about Jesus and that it’s never too late.