I am not a perfect father. Not even by a long shot. If you ask my kids, though, (and we have) if there’s anything they would change about their mom and dad they would likely say, “No, nothing at all.” For that I am grateful. For that, I am humbled because I know me better. There’s so much to work on. I know how quickly I get worked up and how impatient I can be at times with them. I’ve seen the looks on their faces when in an attempt to judge a dispute correctly I wrongly accuse one of my children. What a horrible feeling! What an accurate mirror, though, to show the unrighteousness that is in me and then point myself to Jesus. I’m truly thankful for this mirror. As I see what is missing I am granted the opportunity in the kindness of God to repent and be better; to be more Christ-like; to grow as a Dad.
My children needed a father, and God, in His grace has equipped and is equipping me to do it. I am not hopeful because of me, but because of Him. I am not optimistic because of human nature, but because of the nature of the Holy Spirit who is faithful to the admittedly inadequate. And I am inadequate.
In all of my lack and all of my weakness, I look to Him. When my greatest efforts seem to be failing, He is my hope, and theirs. I’m here to be the man in their life that represents the Fatherhood of God; to be for them a reflection of their Father in Heaven. I do not always do it well, but if I can honestly reflect on my mistakes, I can also show them by example what it means to confess to a faithful Father who forgives.
Fatherhood is a Joy
I can only speak for myself, but for me, being a father is a joy. It’s a joy because I have witnessed the birth of three children, seen them take their first steps and heard them say “Daddy” for the first time. I’ve been on the receiving end of thousands of hugs and kisses, thrown my little girl high in the sky, and heard her scream with excitement as she fell into my arms again. I’ve tossed the ball with by two boys, taken them hunting for the first time and let them steer the car a couple times (on a quiet and slow road of course). I’m watching them grow and learn what it means to be a person in God’s Word.
They are making mistakes, experiencing victories and coming into their own. All of this is happening under the watch of an imperfect man; me. What’s greater still is that I’ve had the chance to introduce them to a Father in Heaven who will never fail them and who is more joyful that I could ever be.
Yes, it’s important to me to do well and to share with my kids what it means to enjoy life’s goodness. But life here does not last forever. And the pleasures and joys of this world are only temporary. What’s more, not everything here is peaches and cream. Things are quite bad in reality and they need to know this. What about when I’m gone? What if God takes them or me when least expected? I am preparing them for a greater joy that is beyond this world and that supersedes the good and the bad. It’s the joy of knowing God, their Father, through a relationship with Jesus. This means that beyond me, beyond my abilities and failures, they can know one who does not fail and whose joy is forever. I am preparing them for heaven and to know that Jesus is their great and eternal reward. And this brings me great joy!
The True Meaning of Fatherhood
A father is a protector and a provider. He is a faithful presence; a man whose children can look to him at all times, in any place and for any reason, and in that moment find comfort, truth, and love that asks for nothing in return.
Are there fathers that fit this definition anymore? Some may think this is asking a lot. But there was a time when this was the norm and the dead-beat dad who saw his kids as a nuisance to his career goals or hobbies was frowned upon. Today it seems to be the reverse. It’s more normal to see a father who has checked out of his parenting role. You’ll see him standing in the grocery line with his child but acting annoyed that he even has to be there and listen to the nagging. It’s normal and even expected that the desires of the father take center stage while his kids wonder where he is all the time. Sure, they have food to eat and the rent is paid, but if dad’s never around then none of that matters. Children in poverty who have loving fathers are actually richer than wealthy children with dads who are married to their work, their booze, or their hobbies.
The true meaning of fatherhood is found in God. He is the Father to the fatherless. His children are never thrown to the curb or abandoned by Him. He is a provider, protector, and Savior. He comforts the weak and encourages strength. He gives mercy, grace, and forgiveness. He disciplines out of pure love, and for those who are His through Christ Jesus, there is never condemnation. He is peace in troublesome times and hope for those who feel hopeless. In everything and in every way God is a good Father.
Men, this Father’s Day, I want to encourage you in your calling. I want you to be able to see the failures and the weaknesses you possess as a Dad, and bring them to your Heavenly Father. I want you to know that there is forgiveness for your sin in the cross of Jesus. Take a good look at your precious kids today and realize the honor that has been placed before you. Take it seriously. Walk in faith. Lead your children with joy. Deny your fleshly desires and be for them an example of godliness and the love of Christ.