If God is really our father, as he says in the Bible, if he really loves us like a father, or as Jesus tells us, more than earthly fathers, then surely his love is amazing, his acceptance total, and his care reliable. I love my children. I would do anything for them. But can God really love me like that—more than that?

This is one of those truths that our hearts—with all our jacked up human experiences—just cannot seem to accept. For some, comparing God’s love to that of an earthly father is more painful than promising, more destructive than inspiring. This must be some kind of trick. God must surely mean by father, something like an authoritative, distant, grumpy, quick to anger, ready to pounce, kind of figure.

This weekend my grandfather passed away. He wasn’t a very good father to my mom. As my aunt said on social media, he probably didn’t have the tools for that. For a few days near his death he opened up to my mom as she tried to care for him. Then he shut her out. He said hurtful things and dismissed her.

He died like he lived. According to a hospice chaplain, that’s normally how it goes. People die how they live.

Images like this for a lot of people, can easily be projected onto God when we think of him as father. Deep down we hope he’s a good father. But if we are honest we sometimes doubt it. He’s probably not going to accept me, we think. He’s probably going to hurt me. He probably doesn’t really care.

Is God a good father? Can it be true? Can we allow our hearts for one solitary moment to bask in this kind of optimism?

The answer is either yes or we simply have to reject the whole of the New Testament. That means it is all a lie, or it it means the entire thing is true. If the God of the Bible exists then his love as father is more amazing then we can conceive. It is better than anything our hearts ever hoped for.

As an earthly father I will always love my children. No matter what they do. No matter where they go. I will be here for them. I’m not walking out. They might. I won’t. So, help me God. Still, I can’t imagine this, really, but God loves me more, loves me better, than that. That’s what it means for him to be a perfect father. It must mean at least that.

Imagine the best father you know. God is infinitely better than that. Consider your love, if you are a parent, for your children. God’s love is infinitely better than that. We are either orphans in a world that doesn’t care, with all its self-centered and self-serving people, or at the center of the universe there is One who will never turn us away. And he bids us to call him Father. That, brothers and sisters, is good news.