He and his dad pack days worth of food, cold-weather gear, and shovels and hike into the mountains. They’ve bought special sleeping bags that keep you toasty below freezing. They choose the perfect patch of deep snow and dig out the perfect cave, complete with sleeping platforms, to call home for the next few days. Each cup of coffee is brewed with melted snow over a small camp stove, each meal rehydrated the same way.
She and her dad hop into the truck early one morning, travel mugs full of coffee hot from the Keurig, and set out towards the Olympics in search of snow. Forgetting all about packing a lunch, they drive until they find the old logging roads he used to travel during hunting seasons past. The truck takes them as high as the road will go, where they find a red picnic table and far-away views of Mt. Rainier.
He and his dad wake up early on October mornings, pockets full of jerky and rifles slung over shoulders, to hike the hills of the Palouse in search of deer. She and her dad stay up late on summer evenings, plastic glasses and wine bottle in hand, to lean against driftwood and watch the sun as it sets over Puget Sound.
He and his dad talk about mechanics. She and her dad share books.
He calls his dad Pop. She calls hers Dad. They’ll both sometimes call him by his first name if he doesn’t answer right away.
As is true for many sets of siblings, my brother and I were raised by the very same guy. The same guy that slept in a snow cave with my brother lets me take portraits of him on snowy mountain sides. I’ve never slept on a bed made of snow or drank coffee brewed over that camp stove. Matt’s never used the truck, trees, and picnic table to compose an image of his dad that perfectly captures the day.
Same exact man, same exact depth of love and pure enjoyment, different experiences.
It could be easy for me to look at all the things my brother and dad do together and feel like I’m missing out. We’ve never stood shoulder to shoulder under the hood of a car. We’ve never took hunters’ safety classes together. We never spent a week backpacking in the woods together. It could be easy to wonder why my dad didn’t show up for me the way he does for my brother.
But he does show up for me. He shows up in the ways that I need. If I waited for my dad to take me snow cave camping before I believed he loved me, I’d miss out on all the ways he’s showing me his love every day. We’ve never fixed an engine together, but he has replaced my ruined engine. We’ve never backpacked together, but he’ll drive me down any backroad I want to travel to take the photos I’ve imagined. We didn’t take that safety course together, but he’s talked me through many times of hurt.
He shows up for Matt and he shows up for me over and over again in ways that prove undeniably how much he loves us.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
One of the great things about Church, about coming together to live in community with the body of believers, is that you get to see all the unique and personal ways God shows up to love each of us. I learn so much more about the character of my dad by watching how he interacts with my brother and I learn so much more about our Heavenly Father by seeing how He shows up for all of you. The gifts He gives to you are not always the same as the gifts He gives to me, and instead of looking at the work He is doing in your life and thinking, “Why not me?” I want to say, “Look what God can do!”
You and me and Moses and Abraham and Esther and Rahab and Ruth and David and Paul and John–we have the exact same Dad. The same Dad that led Moses through the sea, kept His promises to Abraham, rescued His people through Esther, placed Rahab–idolater, prostitute, and hero–into the lineage of Jesus, redeemed the life of Ruth, called David “a man after His own heart” despite his many faults, dropped the scales from Paul’s eyes, and revealed visions to John in exile is the Father of us all.
Look what God can do.
God has never parted literal seas for me. I have never hidden spies or confronted kings or been exiled. God has never shown up for me in those places, but He has shown up for me in my loss, my depression, and my fear. Just like sometimes dads toil shoulder to shoulder under the hood fixing what’s broken, my Dad has led me through healing my heart and mind. Just like my dad replaced the engine in my car with very little effort or cost on my part, my Dad has swooped in with immediate and specific answers to big prayers.
Look what our Dad can do.
Maybe you and our Dad have walked through a miracle pregnancy together. Or perhaps our Dad walked with you through a heartbreaking miscarriage.
Maybe you and our Dad are overcoming addiction together. Maybe you and our Dad teach struggling youth to be healthy, whole people together.
She meets her Dad early to run and pray together. He and his Dad stay up late while the house sleeps to speak deeply to each other.
She calls Him Father. He calls Him Abba.
Same exact God, same exact love tailored to each one of us.
Our Dad loves you. He shows up for you. He comes through for you. He is full of the same impossibly personal, need-meeting love for us all. Don’t miss what He’s doing for you because it doesn’t look like what He’s done for someone else.
So try this: ask Him every morning for two weeks, “God, how are You going to show up today?” Journal it, speak it out in the car, sigh it at the mirror when you’ve washed your face. And then every night for two weeks ask Him, “God, where were You today?” and WRITE. IT. DOWN. Ask Him to show you three things and then make a record of it. Do it every day and then see if you aren’t better able to see the personal ways God is showing up and showing off in your life.
I’ll go first:
- The man behind me at the traffic light passed a granola bar out the window to a homeless man. My Dad encouraged compassion between strangers.
- I chatted with a group of women I don’t normally see about how to practically take steps to be a better version of ourselves every day. My Dad brought me motivation from like-minded hearts.
- Today I had time to engage in some meaningful training related to my job. My Dad provided time and resources so that I can better serve my coworkers and organization.
Look what God can do.
Your turn. How has our Dad shown up for you today?