Monday, July 9, 2012

Fathers- Recognized Beyond Father's Day

“He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” 

I can think of no better way to start an exposition such as this than by these words spoken by Clarence Budington Kelland.  Though the human experience is one of differing relationships, running the gambit from excellence to tragedy, there is one truth that shines forth clearly: We all, every one of us, need a father.  A father is not merely a name in the home, regardless of how we’re brought up.  A father is the pattern by which we adjust our own lives, and it is to his influence that we bend.

When I see this quote, I often think of my own father, who in spite of his downfalls provided me with an excellent model to follow after.  As with all children, I did not pay close enough attention to all of those lessons.  Some of us must simply learn the hard way, and that’s that.  Yet when I look back, I know that there are many things about me that are completely thanks to his part in my life.

My father was a hard worker, and even when accusing me of being lax or lazy, (which I was), nevertheless instilled in me the desire to always move forward with my nose to the grindstone.  I am not work obsessed, but I do know the value of a hard day’s work- And that is thanks to my Dad.

My father also taught me respect.  Respect for women, and respect for authority.  Respect also for those with less than I, and for those who are my peers.  When speaking out of line with an elder, I had only to catch his eye to remember my place.  When teasing my younger sisters, or one of the neighborhood kids, I’d only need to think of him to bring it to an end.

Yes, my father had his shortcomings- So do we all!  He overcame those, though, simply by living.  Though he stumbled on the road of life from time to time, he showed by example that a life well lived is not about how few times one falls; rather, it is about how one chooses to carry on.  Like my Dad, I too have stumbled along this winding path; but I have learned well from him this lesson, and I refuse to be defeated.

This quote also reminds me of the words of Jesus Christ.  In John 8:28, He says that He did only as His Father taught Him.  Then, later on in verse 38, He says that He was speaking only what He saw His Father do.  Not a single person on the planet can say that Christ was anything but good- Not when speaking truthfully.  Some may doubt His existence, but they cannot deny the Gospels show Him to be, if nothing more, a good man.  Christ tells us that all which He said and did came as a result of His Father.

The beauty in this concept is awe inspiring.  Christ’s Father is also our own, for those who know Him.  For those who do not, He waits as the father of the prodigal son; ever watching from His hill, so that when we broken and battered souls take that first step, He can run to us and bring us the rest of the way.  He forgives the past, strengthens our present, and grants hope for the future.

He is the ultimate role model for fathers everywhere.

There are some of us today who have never known a true father.  My father, for all of his examples, was also absent a great deal.  When he was not out working, he was home working, and I look back on those times and wonder what things would have been like otherwise.  Looking back, though, never does anything for us; not unless we wish only to see how far we’ve come.  Still, many of us with less than ideal childhoods will gravitate, once or twice a year, to the greeting cards section.  Why?  Simply to read those lovely words, wistfully, and to dream.  Sometimes, we dream of what might have been, but other times, we dream of what we hope will be.

Someone once said, “Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.”  Some of us have never known that guiding hand.  Others of us have known only a hand too heavy, and too hard.  While some wish for the fond memory of such a tender feeling, others wish to escape the sense of their father’s hand.

Here too, we find that God the Father is perfect.

We are told in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  His hand on our shoulder is never too heavy, and never too hard.  It is never rough, but always gentle and kind.  He is not the father some of us knew growing up- The one just waiting for us to make a mistake.  Rather, He is the father who knows mistakes will happen, and waits instead for the opportunity to make things right. 

The difference is slight, perhaps, but oh so vital!

Geoffrery Hill summed up the trouble all fathers face quite succinctly.  He said, “Finally coming to terms with Fathers Day. I blow as a Dad. I get it. No, I'm not an evil, abusive Father, it's just that while all my intentions and thoughts have been out of love for my kids, my actions and behaviour never measured up.”  Somewhere in the live of fathers was a father who gave up; a father who became so profoundly frustrated with himself, he simply stopped.  Perhaps for some of us it was even before we were born- Perhaps some of us had a father who never was.  Perhaps some of us knew a father that we wished were not.  Others may have earnestly desired a father of some kind, while others prayed for a father of any other kind.

What I’ve come to realize as I’ve grown older is that not every father is entirely responsible for his weaknesses.  Oh, they are responsible for their own decisions, and no doubts about that!  However, when a father makes a “bad call,” it is rarely due to their being absolutely evil incarnate.  Most times, it seems due to a flawed decision structure.  It is due to the fact, that somewhere down the line, a father gave up.

Here again is the beauty of God the Father, for He has stated “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  He is not the giving up kind.  He is the type of father that will always be a phone call away; always ready to lend a helping hand; always ready to comfort; and always ready to forgive a hasty, angry word.  He is the Father that never stops.

There is something I find so comforting in this.  The fact that, though I fall a thousand times, He never quits picking me up.  Though I become angry, He never takes offense.  Though I ignore Him, He never stops listening for me.  He is the ultimate Father, and the ultimate role model.

“The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature.”  -- Abbé Prévost

The very center of every child’s universe truly is the father- While mothers nurture, it is the fathers who provide the atmosphere; the sunlight, if you will, for the young to grow strong.  A single word from a father can affect the child directly, whether spoken to them, or to their mother.  The power of a father is tremendous and yet vital; for he who wields it, perhaps it is also a bit terrifying.

So, with this in mind and in closing, let me address the fathers in this room- All the fathers, those who are and those who will be.  The Lord has given us a clear model for fatherhood: firm discipline, amazing grace, abundant mercy, and never ending love.  This is the model every father should strive for, and the model that I would hope every father seeks to attain.  It is a worthy goal, and one that all should reach for.

Yet, with all of this said, there is one thing I believe is greater than even this; greater, only because it is absolutely imperative.  Only because it is required, if one is to ever achieve this goal.

Fathers, if I may pass on a single word of advice to all of you; a single statement that will make the difference between a failure and a father; it would be this:

Never Give Up.  The getting up is ultimately more important than the failing.

This has been an excerpt from an excellent book that was recently published with much more on the importance of fathers.  It is titled Fatherly Reflections, and I personally recommend it highly.  Along with this very post, one will find many other anecdotes, poems, advice, and memories of other fathers.  You can find it for Kindle as well as in traditional format.  If you like what you see, consider getting a copy for yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to comment on any post you like. We do ask that you remain courteous and family friendly, as people of all ages will be reading these comments. Thank you!

IMPORTANT NOTE: We welcome your thoughts, and look forward to any websites you wish to show us that may contain material relevant to the entry. However, please note that all comments containing a web address will be flagged for approval, and may not show right away.

Thank you again for taking the time to comment, and God bless you!