Fatherhood has a way of changing your life perspective,
to say the least. My two boys, soon to be young men, had been
entrusted by God to me. It has taken me too many years to finally
realize the awesome responsibility and privilege that was.
When they were born, all they needed was Mom. She took care of
their every need. After awhile they grew into little boys and were great
fun to play with and buy all the new boy's toys I couldn't rationalize
buying for myself. Things seemed to fall into place rather well.
But there were other responsibilities too. I spent a lot of time getting
my career going and teaching at church. Instead of working on relationships,
I kept myself busy with the tasks that needed to be done. Of course,
for every task finished, there were at least two more that pop up.
It had only been a few years ago that I realized my fatherhood had
been very passive. Oh, I was a good, loving father as fathers go, but one
day I decided to see what the Holy Scriptures had to say about fatherhood.
What I found was astonishing. With all the time and energy I
had put into so many pursuits and goals to accomplish in my life, I
discovered one of my highest callings was my role as "Dad."
God's Word is full of relationships. After all, relationships are
what God is all about The idea of husband and wife, parent and child,
friends, all originated with Him. Our society tries to redefine it all
these days, but God's plan is very clear. When I looked to the scriptures
to read about fatherhood, there were two things that jumped out
at me, two eternal truths that left me both awestruck and with a knot
in the pit of my stomach, brought on by sheer humility.
When someone asked Jesus to show us how to pray, Jesus responded
in a way that must have astounded all the Jews around Him. The Jews
understood the perfect holiness of Jehovah and the sinfulness of man.
They knew God's omnipotence and His omniscience. They were well
aware of the barrier that separated them from their God. Even the
High Priest could only get so close.
Yet Jesus tears down that barrier by saying,
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven
Jesus introduced an amazing concept. We could have a personal
relationship with the Father. At that time the world was just beginning
to understand that relationship would come through His Son. If that's
not enough to overwhelm our human mind, consider what Paul wrote.
For you have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear,
but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry
out, "Abba Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with
our spirit that we are children of God.
We are all familiar with this passage, aren't we? Most of us know
that "abba" is an Aramaic term of endearment, more like "Daddy" than
"Father." I had read that passage many times, but on that particular
day it struck me in a new way. The creator of all things, the Lord of
lords, the King of kings, the God of the Bible with a divine nature
and essence we can only begin to imagine, chooses to be known by us
as "Daddy." Of all the titles he could choose!
Those of us who are dads know how special that word is. The boys
are older now and "Dad" is the term they now use, though a "Daddy"
does slip out now and then, especially when they're begging and pleading
to get their way. But Emma at three years old, she only knows me
as "daddy." When she climbs into my lap and wraps her little arms
around my neck, and says, "I love you, Daddy," the world is perfect at
that moment for both of us. Perhaps that's what God has in mind for
His children. With all the deep theology within the pages of scripture
that we must never neglect, what better picture of a loving heavenly
Father with His loving children than a child on the lap of her daddy?
The image left me feeling content and loved as His chosen adopted
child. God has chosen to show Himself to us as "Father."
How important is fatherhood to God, that He would reveal Himself
in that way? The scriptures reveal just how important fatherhood is to
Himand that was somewhat intimidating when I realized He has
called me to be a father here on earth, to imitate Him
In Deuteronomy 4:9, Moses writes the fathers of Israel:
Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you
forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from
your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your
children and grandchildren.
Moses was not simply warning these men not to forget the amazing
miracles they had seen God perform before their very eyes, but
even more importantly, not to let their hearts grow cold toward God.
What struck me was God's concern not simply for these men, but for
their future generations.
I thought about how future generations of young men, my grandsons
and beyond, would have their lives impacted by how I lived my
life and what example I was to my sons now. That was quite humbling
that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His
statutes and His commands, which I command you, you and
your son and your grandson, all the days of your life
My actions now as a father have such far reaching effects. That is why
God mentions obedience affecting at least three generations, if not more.
And these words, which I command you today, shall be in your
heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children
Deuteronomy 6:6, 7
The idea is not simply knowing and obeying God, but having a
deeper relationship at a heart level. Only then can we truly teach our
sons about God. I struggled with the word, "diligent." I had to admit
to myself I had not been diligent. At least not in the way I had been
diligent about the many other roles in my life.
There's a reason we are warned to be diligent. The consequences of
ignoring that warning can be devastating.
So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all
the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all
the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.
Scripture tells us that Joshua and his contemporaries, who had seen
the amazing miracles of God, served God well. But in vs. 10 we find
they all died off.
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers,
another generation arose after them who did not know the
Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.
I marveled at how this new generation did not know of God and
His mighty works for Israel. Were those men so busy serving God in
other ways that they ignored what Moses had written in Deuteronomy?
The consequences proved to be grave.
Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the
Lord, and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord
God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land
of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods
of the people who were all around them, and they bowed
down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger.
Judges 2:11, 12
I shudder when I think of all the false gods that could capture my
sons' hearts if I should neglect my responsibility of telling them about
the one true God of the Bible.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your
children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven
give good gifts to those who ask Him!
Here Jesus compares earthly fathers to our heavenly Father. Earthly
dads generally want to give good gifts to their kids, and I am no exception.
Good gifts come in many forms: a home to live in, good food,
a good education, vacations as awesome as this canoe trip, etc. We
earthly dads spend so much time on these gifts that we can easily miss
the best gift we can give our children. That is a strong spiritual heritage
produced by a dad living out his Christian faith. That heritage will
never be built by passive fatherhood!
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.
Do our sons see us seeking God's kingdom and His righteousness
or all the other things of this world?
I know I've been speaking of fathers and sons, mostly due to my
life experience with Emma being only three years old, but also because
many verses are directed to fathers and sons. I believe the reason for
that is God has called men to be the spiritual leaders of the family.
That responsibility rests on them. The principles are just as valid with
both parents and both boys and girls.
It has also been my experience that a man will not be very effective at
leading his family in spiritual leadership without the encouragement and
support of a loving wife and the fellowship of other Christian brothers.
Glenn Frontin is the author of A River Calling, a book for Christian dads raising sons. It takes the reader down the entire length of the Missouri River, filled with wilderness adventure, Lewis and Clark history, military training, spiritual warfare; all the stuff guys love...all the stuff we love.
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