Father’s Day will be celebrated throughout large portions of the world this Sunday. Our oldest son will be coming over with our youngest granddaughter to celebrate and I’m looking forward to that. It’s such a blessing to be a father and grandfather (and also an “opa”). I have my share of regrets about how I parented our two boys but the Lord is merciful and forgiving.
This will be the first Father’s Day without my Dad around. He died last July. My Dad and I didn’t have much of a relationship. He was a very reserved and formal person and had a hard time lowering himself to my level as I was growing up. As I transformed into a gangly teenager he became borderline abusive. Anytime I did something wrong, which was most of the time in his eyes, he would say, “What’s the matter with you?” I always wanted to answer, “Nothing! What’s the matter with YOU?,” but clenched my teeth and kept it inside because I had been well-trained not to be disrespectful. When my Dad was home on the weekends I generally tried to be in some other part of the neighborhood. My father was clearly disappointed in me so, as kids will do, I did my best to meet his drooping expectations, and around and around we went. The old maxim is boys generally get along with their Moms and girls with their Dads and that was the case in our family. The person my sisters wept over at his funeral wasn’t quite the person I knew growing up. Fathers are generally tough on their sons and some are even tougher.
I got married and moved out of the house at the ripe old age of eighteen and one of my motivations was to get away from my father as quickly as I could. As time went on and we raised our own children, I gradually accepted that Dad was an imperfect person and had done the best that he could with an imperfect son. But the memories remained.
I accepted the Lord thirty-three years ago and talked to my parents about salvation several times. My father had a good friend who was a Christian and I know they spoke about the Gospel several times. I’m hoping my father put his faith in Christ as Savior.
This past week we received a check for my portion of my parents’ estate. It wasn’t a fortune but it was enough to pay off the balance of our home equity loan. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
My Dad messed up as a father. I messed up as a father. I’m so grateful for my perfect Father in Heaven who loved me so much He sent His Son to die for my sins. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, He cancelled ALL of my sin debt! My Shepherd now leads me and I follow (most imperfectly!).
Dads, love your children. Be the spiritual leader of your home but don’t exasperate your children. Mix tenderness with strength. Love and lead with the Lord as your example. Words said in anger and frustration can’t be taken back. If unchecked, frustration and anger will become your knee-jerk reactions to the challenges your growing children will present to you.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4