Father’s Day

by Ray Warfel, Jr.

Today is Father’s Day, so naturally, I’ll start by mentioning Mother’s Day. Last month, on Mother’s Day, in my Sunday sermon, I highlighted various moms. Moms from long ago, moms who are a blessing, moms who never had children, moms to children who are not their own, and moms who were not the moms we needed them to be. I think it’s important, while honoring good moms, to also be considerate of those with emotional scars. I’ll say the same now about dads. I suspect, however, that it is more readily recognized that the world is plagued with immature, unprepared, ill-equipped, distracted, and absent dads.

I have a dear friend, an older minister. When my children were small, he and I studied together almost daily. He told me once that our job as dads is to teach our children who their forever Father is. That stuck in my head. It’s still there, and even though my children are now adults, it continues to reverberate in my consciousness. It’s even more insistent in me now.

Have you ever thought that our first image and picture of God is our dad? Dads, have you considered that? You represent and model the Father for those in your house. Even before they could read pages of Scripture what did your children learn about God? Did they know him to be loving? Safe? Not just safe when they were scared but even when they had made a mess? Was God fair and patient? Would He listen to them, make time for them? Or was the God they knew distant most of the time, and if He was engaged, He was angry, maybe even violent? And no matter what they did, would it never be right or good enough to make Him happy? It makes me wonder if the anger and resistance so many feel about God and Christianity is really resentment aimed at dads.

I said this in my message about mothers and it’s just as appropriate when we think about dads. Give your dad grace. As a middle-aged man and a father with twenty-some years of experience, I look back on my childhood and wish my dad could have been, or done, or guided me sometimes differently. Not that I think he was a bad dad, not at all. I just wish he would have told me or prepared me for certain things. But when I look back on these memories, I wonder how he could have. He was in his twenties. I’m almost double his age, but I expect him to know what I’ve only begun to understand in my forties. When my dad reads this, I want him to know that he did the very best that he could with the skills and knowledge he had then. I’m not a perfect dad myself. I wish I would have done several things differently in raising my three very dear children. And kids, when you read this, I hope you see that I did the best I could then with my own limited skills and understanding, and when you remember my childhood days, think of me graciously.

Love always, your Pa

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