Being
a father

1.        The joy of a father

The birth of my first child is indelibly imprinted in my mind. One of the men from church was
looking through the nursery window with me and told me, “He has your good looks.”
Beaming with pride I said, “Thank you.”

To which he replied, “He has to have your good looks, your wife still has hers.”

The joke did not diminish the joy in my heart at being a father. And, that pride did not diminish
with the birth of my other children, 1 boy and 1 girl.

The pride in my children continued through their childhood, not only with their
accomplishments in school and in athletics; but, even more my pride was in the people they
were becoming.

My oldest son, when in middle school, ran track. His friend (who was favored to win the mile)
fell on the tract and detached a retina, was unable to run in the league championship meet. My
son was moved into his slot (not really his race), and ran the mile of his life to capture 2nd
place in the league, for which he received a ribbon. Upon receiving the ribbon, he went to his
friend, and almost with tears in his eyes said, “Here, this is your ribbon. I’m sorry I couldn’t get
you first place.” That was better than all the ribbons, trophies and awards he went on to win.

My youngest son ran for president of the FFA (when it was still Future Famers of America)
because there were some in the high school who wanted to make sure no people of color
would be able to join. He received a death threat from the KKK. He did not hesitate and
continued to run, winning with all the votes except for one. That is the kind of teenager that
makes a father proud.

My daughter went three days without sleep when there was a suicide-murder in her best friend’
s family to take care of the little children and listen to her teammates (it was the mother-father
of one of her teammates on the softball team). She sacrificed her time and energy to help a
family through a most difficult time. That is the type of Daddy’s little girl, who as a sophomore,
could bring tears to his eyes.

There are numerous stories that I could tell of each of my children of times when they made
me proud, as I am sure that each and every parent can. Nothing will get parents to talk more
than to talk about their children.

Children are a joy, but they are a responsibility.

2.        The responsibility of a father

The responsibility of a father is to “provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the
nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

A father has the ability and joy to teach his children how to play sports, how to fish, how to hunt,
how to do a myriad of other things; but, he has the responsibility before God to rear them to
become Christians. All the rewards and trophies the children win in athletics and academics
and competitions are nice; but, they are merely window dressing to the real responsibility of a
father. A father is to instill within his children the love and the fear of the Lord. He is to teach
them what it means to be a Christian in word and in deed. This instruction is with words, and
this instruction is with example. There is to be a correction when they do wrong, punishment
and teaching, and praise when they do right.

When the fruition of all the tears, prayers and toil is seen in the obedience to the gospel, there
is no greater joy that a father can feel than to see them united with Christ and walking in the
faith.

I have had the joy of seeing that with my children. That I hold onto on this and every Father’s
Day.

3.        The sadness of a father

But, with that joy can also come sorrow. A child of God, even the son or daughter of a righteous
man, can go astray and see their souls in danger. That can, and does break the heart of a
Christian father in a way that is almost impossible to describe. The heart feels like it is placed
in a vise, and the tears fall like the fire sprinkler going off. There is a wretchedness in the soul
that only the Christian father can understand when his children go astray.

One of my sons came close to death when he was little. At first the doctor’s gave him less than
ten percent chance of living through the night. That night was difficult, but it was not as painful
as seeing my children turn away from the Lord. I have known that pain, that agony and that
sorrow at different times with all my children’s conduct. I do not say it lightly or without having
been on the verge of having it happen, but it was easier for me to go through the night on the
verge of death with a child, than to go through their conduct which took them away from the
Lord, and His church.

4.        Learning about our heavenly Father

But, it made me think of my heavenly Father. His love for us is as for His children. How often
have I brought pain and agony to His heart over my actions. How often was He willing to take
me back and to love me in spite of what I have done rather than because of what I have done.
I have also experienced the joy of wayward children returning. I am not ashamed to say that
tears ran down my cheeks and my lips trembled with joy as they returned to the Lord. There
was no greater joy that I have experienced in my life.

“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than
over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). “Likewise, I say
unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke
15:10).

But ultimately, the father and the son bear their own responsibility before God. As my children
are not responsible for my sins, neither am I responsible for their sins.

“Yet say ye, Why? Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that
which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely
live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither
the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him,
and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins
that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall
surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be
mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live” (Ezekiel 18:19-22;
read the whole chapter).

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