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  • Writer's pictureColby Anderson


I wrote this a while back. It's still true. If any of my feelings about him have changed, it is only more, only better, only deeper.


When I was little, my father would hold his fingers just a little bit apart and say, “I don’t love you this much…” And he’d throw his arms out wide, chasing my brothers and I around the living room, yelling, “I love you this much!”

He’d catch us. Bear hug us until our giggles were gasps. And then repeat. I do this sometimes with my own children, and every time I do I can see them growing deeper in the unshakable certainty that I share…

My father loves me.

He always had time for us as kids, and still does.

He told me that I was a fool when I had it coming.  Let’s be honest, he could have told me more times than he did. And far more harshly.

He listened to me when I wanted to talk to him. Even though it was hard for him to understand me sometimes.

He was oftentimes my friend, more and more as I grew up. But he was always my father and I was always his son.

He practiced what he preached.  And I guess that’s literally not too hard for some guys, because they never preach.  My dad is a preacher, so he’s got a lot to practice.

He held himself to higher standards than I could see as a child, in ways that I’m only just now beginning to fully understand.

He was fair when he needed to be fair, and so very unfair when he needed to be unfair. He understood grace.

He came to my games.

He played in the backyard with me.

He made the best duplo helicopters.

He took me on camping trips.

He would build stuff with me.

Sometimes he could talk to me an like adult, most times he had to talk to me like the foolish little boy that I was, but he always talked to me like I mattered to him.


One time my brother Zach and I, probably 9 and 10 at the time, disrespected my mom. We treated her really bad.  He was so angry.  Furious.  He spoke patiently and calmly and told us that what we had done, we had done to his wife and that it would never happen again.  I was so scared of my dad in that moment. And yet, the calm, the patience, the honesty also made me feel more secure with him.

He slammed his hand in the van door when we at the mall either renting a movie or picking up photos. He said a word we didn’t understand. And then he got in the van and apologized for saying it, even though we didn’t know what it meant.

He would sing worship songs at church during the service, along with everybody else.  Not a big deal?  As my brother Tate said when my dad asked him if he could sing “no.”  But he did it anyway.  And I desperately needed to see that. That worship is about love for God, not love for self.

He hugged us a lot when we were kids, but he’s not a hugging sort of guy.  Every time I see him now and when I leave, he hugs me.  It’s awkward. But I don’t care.  Because it’s awesome.

He put his wife and kids before his work, and man, did he work hard.  But he was always there for us.  He could have pursued more money and has had some serious opportunities to do so, but turned them down every time, because he was a husband first, a father second and a pastor third.

My dad, above all other ways that he loves me, loves God first, even before my mother. And he really loves my mother.

And I saw this in how he treated the Bible, how he treated prayer, how he worshiped, how he treated God.

In Malachi 1:14 it says,

“Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.”

My dad is no cheat.  He fears the Lord.

And he lives it.  And in living it, didn’t just show me how to live it too, but called me out, asking me to live it, daring me to live it, pleading with me to live it…

And refusing to quit.  Refusing to back down.  Refusing to give up on me, even when I was such a fool that I felt that he should have.

He didn’t.

I am the man that I am today, because of my father. I am the father I am today, because of my father.

Some us here don’t have that kind of father.  Maybe he didn’t love you the way that he should have. Or maybe he died. But regardless of who our fathers are or were, we all have a heavenly father.  What are the first lines to the Lord’s Prayer?

My father’s name is Mark, but I call him, “Papa.”  Not sure how that started, but that’s what I call him.  And I don’t like sharing that with you, because he’s mine, not yours.  And you can’t call him that.  And I don’t like saying it in front of other people because he’s mine, not anyone else’s. He’s mine.

But its not true.  He’s not mine.  I’m his.  And that’s the beauty of fatherhood. When you’re a father, you don’t belong to your children, your children belong to you. This point I’m making really is just mostly semantics. Of course he belongs to us. But he also doesn’t.

What do I mean? I mean that it isn’t a mutually beneficial relationship regarding our responsibilities to each other. It is just not a fair relationship.  Disagree?  Ever changed a diaper?  Yeah, not fair.

Fatherhood isn’t fair.

Because it isn’t about fairness.  Its about love.

God, our Father, the Father of fathers, isn’t fair.  If he was, we’d all be dead.  Every single last one of us. 

It says in Romans 3...

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands;

there is no one who seeks God.

All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.”

As unsaved people we are under the law, sinful, guilty, deserving of punishment.  It is by the works of God, not our own, that He sent His Son Jesus to die for us and satisfy God’s Wrath, our punishment, as demanded by the Law, a standard that we are, by our nature, incapable of meeting.

But Jesus didn’t just die for us, He also rose again.  And in rising, He calls to those of us who are the Children of God to accept and believe in His sacrifice, and rise with Him, to live now in, and with eyes and hearts for our Father’s Kingdom.

Jesus’s death on the cross freed us from the Law and His resurrection is our invitation into “already and not yet” the Kingdom of God. This is the greatest love shown to us, the children of the greatest Father.

Remember earlier, when I spoke of all the ways in which my dad loved me?

The greatest thing my God, my Heavenly Father, ever did for me, was love me.  Making is one thing, loving, quite another.

And what does my Heavenly Father’s love look like?

“For God so loved the world

that He gave His one and only Son,

that whoever believes in Him

shall not perish

but have eternal life.”

How much does our Heavenly Father love us?

Hold fingers a little bit apart 

He doesn’t love you this much.

Jesus hung on the cross,

arms opened wide,

hands nailed to the wood soaked in his blood

He loves you this much.

And he longs to chase around the living room and hug you until your giggles turn to gasps, your grief turns to peace, your heart turns to his, and you are convinced of his love for you.

Church. Your Father in Heaven loves you. And longs for you. What does this do for you? How does this change your day to day? How does this change you?

My good Papa is good

because He loves our very good Father,

who first loved us.

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