Father’s Day

This is my draft of what I’m going to be saying at the services on Sunday….call it a “sermon-ette”.

First, let me echo Pastor Amy’s comments she made on Mother’s Day…for it is clear that for some, the talk of a Loving and Forgiving Father is alien, with fathers who didn’t live up to our standards, or even a Father figure at all in one’s life. It must make trying to understand the central message of the Bible a lot more difficult.  I pray that such a relationship of a strong and loving father figure is not totally absent from your life, or that you can find inspiration in other relationships.

Being a father has helped me understand my heavenly Father a bit more…and studying him has helped my growth as a father, as well.  Although it is obviously on a much smaller scale, I see a lot of similarities between our heavenly Father and being an earthly father.

First, there is the power. That is, that power of creation…that moment when you hold your child in your arms for the first time, and you feel the wonder (and the responsibility) wash over you. There is joy, simply through their existence as well as seeing them grow – as Psalm 127 says, Children are a heritage of the Lord; Offspring a reward from Him.” There is the feeling of being held in awe…and while we (and maybe our children) tend to forget it as we get older, it is those moments where a shadow of the power and awe of God is reflected on us – a power that is both motivates and humbles you.

I was home on my mid-tour break from Iraq, and we had somehow gotten into a discussion on heros.  We had all given examples, mostly historical, except for my then 7 year old daughter.  When I asked who she thought was a hero, she said, “Dad….you’re my hero.” How can you not try a bit harder after that?

Another example where I see a bit of a parallel: I love my children, I am proud of what they have accomplished, but I also know they can do more…and so, I try to do everything in my power to encourage that.  Sometimes it is positive, sometime….sometimes it takes the form of cell phone or car restrictions, or not giving them everything they think they should have, might seem to them as being an uncaring or unloving father. While we see this as childish behavior, I am not sure we always see the acts of our Heavenly Father in the same way.

But…It may be in those “discussions” one has with your children that you can glimpse a few of the deeper questions we have in our faith life, such as why does God sometimes make it so tough for us? Perhaps, like how we love our children, see them as good,  but knowing they can do better and who we want to succeed, to do the right thing, to take the right path even if it is bit longer and rockier, God has a similar plan for us.

And, maybe, when they are little, you do a bit more for them…you make or guide their decisions, but there comes a time when you want them, you want them,  to make their own choices, and to make their own decisions…even when every fiber in your body is screaming for them to do differently.

And, when they do make the wrong choices…and they will, as we all do…we can be there to help them. We would prefer not to do that, but even in that, we hope they learn from that experience. It is a balancing act….You don’t want to embitter your children, for they will become discouraged, as it says in Colossians 3:21.

That brings up another aspect…. I think we’ve all had that feeling that we’ve failed…failed ourselves, failed our spouses, failed our family, failed our God, and felt totally lost and alone. As a father, you get to see that, hopefully on a smaller scale, but still there, with your children.  You see them struggle, you see them fail, and sometimes, even turn away from you. However, you don’t stop loving them, and their failures, followed by their successes, only increases your love for them – as we see in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

But…there are limits to the comparison.  John 3:16 may well be one of the most known parts of the Bible, but I think we hear it or see it so often that it loses its meaning….In terms of Father’s Day, think of how it starts out “For God so Loved the World he gave his only Son….” That sacrifice, I think, resonates a bit differently when you think of it in terms of your own children.

So….on this Father’s Day, let’s give a thought, and a thanks, to those who have the role of Father in our lives….be it here on earth, or elsewhere.

Original posted at josefowski.wordpress.com

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