By Melissa McLaughlin

Dads often carry the title of a child’s first superhero of sorts. Who doesn’t love a strong, brave protector and provider?

My dad held this role in my heart for several acts of uncommon bravery. One of which involved my most hated fear…a spider.

I was convinced it was a tarantula.

My older brother and I were sound asleep upstairs, when all of a sudden, my eyes snapped open. I felt it. Slowly, slowly creeping up my leg. Lurking underneath the blankets, I detected the weight of something small but heavy against my leg- moving, skulking, sneaking. Something horrible, something dreaded, something evil. A spider! I knew it. It must be a spider. A giant spider! My worst nightmare come true!

Every muscle in my body was locked and tense. My hands and toes clenched, I was unable to twitch even a finger, so I did the only thing I could, I howled for help at the top of my lungs, waking my older brother who had been asleep in his bed nearby. In total confusion, urged on by my panic, he shot off to get my dad. Dads know how to combat Godzilla spiders in the middle of the night.

Dad bolted upstairs with his weapon of choice, the kitchen broom. After quickly assessing the situation, Dad asked why I didn’t jump out of bed and get away from this hostile creature. With eyes wide open, lip quivering and voice shaking, I whimpered my clear explanation. There was simply no way I could move with such a monstrous, heavy-weight spider on my leg. I was frozen in place, chained to my fear, unable to breathe, not daring to lift even a corner of the blanket to peek below and see this most heinous of sights.

In one bold and decisive move, Dad bared his muscles and bravely flung open the covers, exposing this nightmare to the mighty force of his undaunted strength and fearless prowess!

Out jumped… a mouse!

I screamed with all my might while my dad and brother chased the mouse around the room, armed with the kitchen broom and a baseball bat my brother found leaning against his closet door. The chase ensued for several minutes with flailing of broom and slamming of bat. Now that my dad and brother were furiously hunting down the gargantuan mouse-spider, I could finally gasp for air.

I honestly don’t remember how the mouse fared. I only remember the feeling of being rescued from the most hated terror in all my life, a spider. Okay, in the end it was actually a mouse, but I still remember the event with the fear of a tarantula slinking around on my leg. My dad protected me from a real-life nightmare. Now that is a superhero in my comic book!

Even better than an earthly dad or comic book superhero though, my dad pointed me toward Jesus, the superhero for all time. I am truly grateful that my husband has done the same for our children. For a life resting in Jesus is a life of eternal protection and provision that never grows old, never loses its power and is never defeated by an enemy.

As I reflect on my father, my husband and other father-figures in my life, I have been graced to observe many honorable and Christ-like qualities of love, forgiveness, humility, grace, helpfulness, thoughtfulness and joy in God’s blessings. In my childhood home and in my present home, though far from perfect, my dad and my husband have exhibited these traits and more. Through it all, they have provided and protected with a blanket of safety and love, offering a tiny glimpse of our heavenly Father’s provision, protection and love.

When I remember examples of Biblical fathers, though flawed and imperfect like our earthly dads, we see many fathers who provided other glimpses of our heavenly Father.

In Genesis 6-8, we witness Noah following God in every way and with God’s help, then providing for and protecting his family from the great flood. Noah was a Godly man and a family man. A protector and provider.

We learn of a centurion named Cornelius in Acts 10, a devout man who feared God along with all his household, who faithfully prayed and gave money to the poor. So faithful was he, that God noticed his prayers and good deeds and sent the apostle Peter to tell him the good news about Jesus. God honored Cornelius and his family, as all were saved and received the Holy Spirit. Through his prayers and a life devoted to God, he protected and provided for his family by bringing them to a place where they could receive Christ as their Savior. Cornelius was a Godly man and a family man. A protector and provider.

Of course, we all know the famous verse about the heavenly Father and Son, John 3:16For 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.

This is the greatest superhero story ever. For God is truly super and Jesus is truly a hero, not just for today, but for all eternity!

God is a family man. He seeks fathers and He seeks their families. Why? Because God loves us and God desires to save us.

God is a protector and provider. Only God could provide the sacrifice needed to save us. Only God could protect us from the penalty of our sin. To do this, He sent His own Son. Only Jesus could do it all, live the life we should have lived and die the death we deserved to die, so the price for our sin-debt is paid once and for all time. Through this sacrifice of love, God has prepared the perfection of heaven to be sin-free forever, a place of true rest for our souls, giving us more than a superhero ending.

When we see Godly fathers around us who live, speak and walk like Christ, the most important gift they give is to protect and provide for us by pointing us to Jesus, our only Savior, so that we will be protected and provided for throughout all eternity.

Do you have a remembrance of your dad that is a reflection of our heavenly Father? What is something you treasure about your dad?

Thank you to my dad, my husband and all the dads who shine the spotlight on our real superhero, Jesus!  Though you may not leap tall buildings in a single bound, you have shown us the One who built it all, in a single command!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

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