Though it is intended for celebration, Father’s Day is often like a fiery iron brander to an already hurting heart, declaring one yet again as fatherless, or with a different kind of searing pain, unwanted.
Many of us can attest to some kind of broken or nonexistent relationship with our fathers, some with more agony than many of us can fathom. This morning as I prayed for my own earthly father and my husband, I paused to consider such a weighty role in light of where I now stand – a wife and mother of three children with our fourth soon arriving. To say that being a parent is challenging is like saying Mount Everest is beautiful and should be fun to pursue. Both are accurate and exciting, but there is a distinct and simultaneous ferociousness about both – if the evaluation and ascent are improper, consequences of such a commitment do not leave you merely disappointed. It is life and death.
Fatherhood is weighty. Manhood is weighty. I speak not only from observation, but from the complementing parties of womanhood and motherhood. When my husband and I first married, I concluded that marriage articulated my sinfulness and produced gratitude for my salvation far more than anything else. Then I became a mother. I am certain the same is for fathers.
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
This is not a suggested posture Paul was recommending for the men at the church of Corinth. It was a frequent command in the Septuagint – a wartime call. Fathers should hear this call and let it echo deep into their souls. It is not optional. There is an age-old war being raged against the household of God, and that war has to be fought first and foremost in the homes of believers. In a culture that promotes men doing the opposite of what this verse suggests, we need fathers to do just what it says – acting like men and working heartily to “not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Children are heavy-laden with anger towards their fathers due to the lack of presence in their lives emotionally and physically. Sadly, this anger produces a wound in the heart of a child that proves lasting and real into adulthood. Thus, the call is great. The outcome is heavy.
Act like men.
Imagine the soldier that guards the gates of the camp, allowing the enemy no entrance and blocking any imminent attempts of ambush. That is the watchfulness fathers must exude for their children. It is more than the necessary work of providing financially for your family, keeping the yard, and disciplining the children. We, mothers and children, desperately need guards keeping watch for the enemy. We need fathers hoping in the only Sovereign, their Commander in Chief, for their strength and power to protect, lead, and sustain their families in love.
The gospel of Jesus Christ.
A father is an image-bearer of our Heavenly Father. It is certain that how you love your children will serve as glimpses into God’s love for his children. Aim to make those as accurate as possible. Proclaim to them what in you (and every single one of us) diminishes the Father’s image, namely a fallen nature in desperate need of saving. Give them the gospel.
It is possible to appear as a valiant father but be a coward in one’s home. Social platforms promote such misrepresentations where one can project themselves to be one way but in actuality be a sunken, puny vessel. One can profess Christ more on Facebook in a week than you have to your child in a year. It is evident which is harder. Yet a father, a man so enticed by the sovereign call of God to Jesus Christ, indulging daily in the Word of God, pleading for wisdom, proclaiming the gospel to his household and all outside, working diligently in a broken world, and every single day putting on love and walking the perimeter of his family’s camp will be able to stand firm.
Fathers, may the risen Lord and his imminent return give you keen awareness. May the bitterness of sin in yourself and your family so shake your soul that you are moved by the powerful working of the indwelling Spirit to fight against the enemy forces that are waiting to devour. May the Bible stand as your surest word and communing with God as your greatest duty. It will move you to action for your family’s good and God’s glory.
May your fatherhood brand your children’s hearts with such wantedness and love due to the power of Christ at work within you. Act like men.