I can remember the day this picture was taken.  I was holding my newborn daughter, Gloria, in the backyard while our friend Paige did a photoshoot for our family.  We were near the two trees in the backyard that hold up the hammock.  As I extended her forward, I thought of how my hand surrounded her entire head and it reminded me of the brilliance of God in how he causes life, development, and growth to be.

I remembered how blessed we were that God sustained her and showed us such grace to watch over her during her birth.

I knew so very little about this baby at the time.  I knew more about me than I knew about her.  I didn’t know what her personality would be like at the time, but I was sure of my commitment to her.

As I held her out in my arms, I was sure of one thing: this baby will not hit the ground.  She will always be safe in the arms of her father.

And today, that baby is three years old.

Where as the time gone?  Where has my baby gone?  This tiny baby has grown into a 3-year-old princess right before my eyes.

She is one of the most joyful, hilarious, compassionate little things I have ever met in my life.  I dread the day when I come home and she isn’t running into my arms.  I will miss those moments when she is shadowing me through the house talking about every single thing.  I will remember these days of her asking me, “Can I hold you?”

While she is older, my commitment is the same to her: she will always be safe in the arms of her father.  That’s one of my parenting goals with her.

I want her to grow up knowing that there is no place as secure and consistent as when she is protected and nurtured by her father.

I work for this goal for two reasons:

  1. Her perception of her earthly father will impact her perception of her Heavenly Father.  I have seen this too many times.  Many people will attribute qualities of their fathers to God.  If that is going to happen, let me help in that regard and not hurt the process.  When she thinks of God, I want her to think of him as consistent, joyful, compassionate, protective, and sincerely intentional.  I want her to believe with her whole heart that he is serious about sin but also gracious towards it.  He is perfectly able to provide discipline and grace.  I want her to believe in a God who sings and dances over her due to his immense love for her (Zeph. 3:17).  If that is the God that I want her to follow, I want to imitate my fathering after him so that if she thinks of me, it helps rather than hurts her perception of God.  I know I will never measure up to his greatness, but that does not mean I will not give it my all though.
  2. Her perception of her earthly father will impact her standard of a future husband.  I want to raise the bar so high in the way that I love her that no trivial, inconsistent, moody, self-seeking, worldly boy ever stands a chance with her.  I want her to be able to see the way I treasure her and never wonder if she is a mere trinket to another.  I want to value who she is on the inside so much that she will never struggle with what others think of her on the outside.  I want to pursue Jesus so much that any boy who is casually associated with following Christ seems unthinkable in her eyes.  I want the way that I serve her mother raises the bar in her eyes on how a man should treat her.  I want her to feel such security with me that she would never settle for someone who will not lay his life down for her the way that Christ loved the Church (Eph. 5:25).

It’s going to take stronger hands to take her out of mine.

No weak boy will be able to pry her out of my hands.  It is going to take someone as strong or stronger.  I am praying for someone who loves Jesus so much that I am in awe of his devotion.

I’ve been thinking about it so much lately because of weddings I have officiated in recent years.  As I look at these fathers and daughters, I wake up for a moment and realize how fleeting these years are.  I must follow Christ so closely before her that provides a standard that will stick with her throughout her life.

That’s my prayer.  I want to live in such a way that makes her love God so much.  I want to love her in such a way that she is secure in who she is.  I want to provide what she (as a little lady) needs: love, security, and consistency.

Gloria, I pray that as I hold you at every stage of your life that my hands will be strong.  I pray that God continues to make them more secure to hold you through different seasons of your life.  Happy Birthday, Princess Gloria, you are treasured more than my words could ever express.

 

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.