Awhile back I read an article about Billy Graham. He was talking to a football team and somebody asked him how to maintain a close relationship with God. He said, “read the Bible and pray every day.” I hated how simple that is. I really wanted it to be more complex and interesting and something I felt good about figuring out. But I figured if it worked for Billy Graham, it might work for me too. So I started reading the Bible and talking to God every day, and listening to see if He has anything important to say. I think I’ve learned more about God in the last few months than the rest of my adult life. You know what I’ve learned?

God is really nice.

Like, really nice. He keeps telling me that he loves me, and that he likes me even. And honestly, as a dude it makes me feel sort of uncomfortable sometimes how much he says he loves me.

Another thing I’ve learned, and it’s probably equally important.

God is really scary.

Not in the horror movie or prison showers kind of way. More in the “giant grizzly bear that could crush you in a heartbeat but decides not to” sort of way.

It reminds me of my dad when I was a kid actually. My dad is super nice. Anybody who knows him knows how nice he is. When I was little, he always spent a lot of his free time helping people move and cleaning old ladies’ houses and counseling messed-up people on the phone late at night. And he was nice to me and my brothers. He came to all our basketball games and taught us how to work hard and took us out to eat on our lunch breaks at school.

Nice dad + Hammer pants circa '94

Nice dad + Hammer pants circa ’94

But he was also really scary in a way. Anyone whose dad took the idea of discipline seriously knows about this. My mom would “wait until my dad got home” to decide on our punishments. And if you had to wait until dad got home, that pretty much guaranteed a spanking with the wooden spoon. When you’re little, this is confusing because you have this super nice guy who is really calm but also whooping you at the same time. And as soon as he was done spanking us he would always give us a hug, sometimes with tears in his eyes, and tell us he loved us.

In a lot of ways, I think that’s what God is like. I admit it can be confusing, especially when you’re young. Some people paint this weird picture of God, like He gets off on torturing people that don’t bow down to him. I disagree. I think it’s more like a really good dad who spanks his kid with tears in his eyes because it hurts to punish your kid, but if you don’t he’ll destroy his life and turn into a bratty adult with no friends.

Nobody wants a cop that looks the other way when someone’s getting mugged. Nobody wants a teacher that gives all her students an “A+” no matter how they actually perform. Nobody wants parents who let their kids run the household. Even Adam Sandler learned that lesson in “Big Daddy.” If we’re honest with ourselves, I’m pretty sure we don’t want a God who doesn’t discipline either.

I guess that’s why the term “Father” is used to describe God so much. God, in a lot of ways, is like the picture of the ideal father. Really nice because he likes you and understands you more than you do yourself. And really scary because you know that if you disobey him, he’s not going to overlook it. He knows that’s not good for you, and he likes you too much to see you wreck your life.

Thanks dad, for helping me to understand and relate to God.

To Mike Morrow and to God, and to all the nice + scary dads out there:

Happy Father’s Day.

Comments (1)
  1. Mike Morrow June 17, 2013 at 12:15 am

    This was one of three of the greatest father’s day gifts a dad could get. Thanks you Nick. Dad loves you!

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