TONY ELDER: Be thankful for earthly fathers, and our Heavenly Father

Tony Elder

Tony Elder

Have you seen one of those billboards along the interstates around Atlanta that show a person making the statement, “I wouldn’t be here without Grady?”

Of course, they’re referring to the well-known hospital in the downtown area. It’s part of an advertising campaign you may have also seen on TV or heard on radio ads. These people are testifying to having suffered life-threatening injuries or other serious medical issues while giving Grady Hospital the credit for saving their lives.

You haven’t seen me on one of those billboards, but you could. I can honestly make the same declaration about myself: I would not be here without Grady.

But in doing so, I wouldn’t be talking about the hospital. You see, my dad’s name is Grady. So obviously if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be in this world at all.

Additionally, many of us can look at our fathers and recognize that we wouldn’t be where we are or who we are today if not for the many ways they have positively impacted our lives and shaped our characters.

That’s even truer when it comes to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. I like the way Paul described Him as he addressed the people in Athens (Greece, not Georgia): “for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Our Heavenly Father created us. Without Him we would not even exist. He has given us, along with everyone else in this world, everything necessary for our lives to be sustained. He’s provided a wonderful planet with all the right conditions to support human life.

In His providence, He continues to watch over us and meet our needs.

But our divine Father has done much more than provide for our physical well-being, as amazing as that is. He has also supplied for our spiritual needs. He has given us the opportunity to know Him, to enjoy a life in which we can receive the blessings of His love, and then leave this world to be with Him for eternity.

Certainly as a pastor and as someone writing a newspaper column about religion, I would not be where I am today and doing what I am doing, if it wasn’t for the graciousness of God and that personal relationship with Him.

But even apart from my vocation, it’s hard for me to imagine how my life would be without my Father in heaven. So many of the choices I’ve made along the way would not have been the same. My life would’ve taken a totally different course.

In addition to the contrast in my circumstances, I would be a very different person in my character and conduct. I hate to think of the depths of selfishness and sin to which I could have sunk if not for the grace of God in my life.

Therefore, without God I would not have the same relationships with family and friends, because most of those connections either are based on a mutual faith in Christ or could not have survived without that spiritual foundation.

Without my Heavenly Father, I would likely have sunk into a life of hopelessness and despair long before now.

So as Father’s Day approaches, let’s be thankful for both our earthly dads and for our Heavenly Father. Maybe we should let them know that we recognize we wouldn’t be in this world nor be the kind of persons we are today without their influence.

So give a card, make a call, or say a prayer to declare with gratitude, “I wouldn’t be here without you.”

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at revtelder@aol.com.