Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

The Sunday school class was memorizing the Lord's Prayer, and some children were struggling. One little girl, normally a fast learner, couldn't even seem to get past the opening "Our Father."

Asked what the problem was, she stammered, "God isn't really like a father, is He?" Like most youngsters, she had a mental picture of "father" based on her own; and her earthly father was an alcoholic who could be counted on for nothing except to regularly get drunk and lash out at anything and anybody unfortunate enough to be within reach.

Some of you reading this can relate. You find nothing to celebrate in Father's Day; and you can hardly believe that the commandment "Honor your father" applies to you, because you've never seen yours do anything honorable. There are fathers who lie and cheat without a hint of guilt; there are fathers who take household money for their own pleasures while the family goes hungry; and there are fathers who permanently banish their underage children for being "too much trouble."

There are also fathers who themselves permanently walk away. Some refuse to have anything to do with their children from the moment the pregnancy is discovered. Perhaps even more hurtful is the once devoted family man who decides he's not happy with that family anymore.

Of course, not all fathers are lost by their own choice. You may have gone through this Father's Day with an aching heart and memories of your father's funeral--mixed, if you're anything like me, with guilt over times you failed to appreciate him while he was there.

And even the best of earthly fathers are human enough to fail us at times. So it's important to remember that God is not like our human fathers so much as He is the prototype of the perfect father. One translation of Ephesians 3:14-15 states that "all fatherhood in heaven and on earth derives its name" from God. Some men are horrible translations; but they cannot change our Heavenly Father, Who never becomes angry for trivial reasons, Who never abandons us to pursue selfish pleasures--and Who cannot be taken from us by death nor by any other power supernatural or mortal (cf. Rom. 8:38-39), because He is above all powers and because through Christ He has also freed us from the power of sin and death.

So if your earthly father abused or deserted you, thank God that He will always be there and will always treat you kindly. If you have or had a good father, thank God for him.

And if Dad is still there for you, tell him today that you love him!

You, well-blessed with human fathers
Who are wise and loving men,
Give your thanks to God in heaven;
See His image stamped on them.

You, whose fathers have passed onward
To the realm beyond our sight,
Trust your God will watch between you,
Till the day you reunite.

You, whose fathers mar God's image
With their selfish, violent ways,
Know your Father in the heavens
Still is worthy of your praise.

You, whose fathers did forsake you--
Though they scorned your broken hearts,
There is One Who can be trusted,
Never changes nor departs:

God, the Father of all fathers,
He Who watches all from birth,
He, the Comforter of orphans--
Praise Him, children, for His worth!

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