The Gift of Fatherhood

God created the universe as a Father, and on all of creation we still see the imprinted stamp of fatherhood. Paul said, ďI bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.Ē (Eph 3:14-15). It is interesting to note that the Greek word for family translated is patria. This word is derived from pater, the Latin word, meaning father. Think about it, ďfrom whom the whole (family-Father) in heaven and earth is named.Ē That thought leaves us with the knowledge that fatherhood came from heaven. It was not an earthly idea after the creation of Adam. The Father-Son relationship existed before the creation of this world. Jesus, the Word, was with God before all time. (Joh 1:1). The only true God cares for all of His creation in a loving, Fatherly manner. Jesus came to reveal to mankind His Fatherís love and to offer us the invitation to become part of His eternal family. (Joh 17:26; I Joh 4:16). Jesus desires us to be reconciled to our heavenly Father so that we can become the children of God. (Mt 11:27; Joh 14:6). I became a Christian when I was seven years old. No one in my family was a Christian, nor had there ever been one as far back as anyone could remember. One day, a knock came at our door and I peered around my motherís skirt at the robed man standing on our doorstep. He asked if anyone in our family would like to come to his church. My heart jumped and I piped up with ďI want to go, Mama!Ē At that point in time I had an earthly father, but when I walked alone through the doors of that Lutheran church, I felt a spiritual covering come upon me that was unlike anything I had experienced on earth. I literally cried in the pew as I talked to my Heavenly Father. I attended every Sunday I could, and one day a born-again Sunday school teacher led me in the prayer of salvation as I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. Never had I known such peace and joy. Five years later, when my earthly father was killed in an accident, I heard the words in a lone sheep pasture later that afternoon, ďNow I will be your Father.Ē A few hours later when I climbed through the barbed wire fence, I left that pasture with inner peace that could not be explained in earthly terms. In todayís world, more than ever, there is a great need for committed Christian fathers to take their place in childrenís lives to guide them onto the path of Godís calling. (Eph 6:4). To be a godly father is the greatest calling available upon a manís life. You represent God to your children. It can be in a positive or negative manner, but nevertheless you will represent God to them. If your commands are reasonable and loving, your child will have an encouraged spirit. If your habits are good, your children will develop good habits. When you bless your children daily, you will encourage them to keep Godís ways. Children need fathers who genuinely love God, and they can always tell if you really do, because they see the real you every day. (Deut 6:5). The Bible instructs fathers to teach their children diligently ďwhen you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up,Ē (De 6:7). In order to do this kind of teaching, you need to be involved with your children. Fathers need to work with their children, study with them, eat with them, and play with them. The Bible promises that when the fatherís hearts are turned to their children, the childrenís hearts will be turned to their fathers. (Mal 3:17). If you take the time to do this, your children will turn their hearts to you, and ultimately to Father God. Our Heavenly Fatherís plan is to do great things in the lives of children through ordinary fathers who are committed to God. William Smartís daughter, Mrs. Dodd, of Spokane, Washington, got the idea for Fatherís Day in 1909 while listening to a Motherís Day sermon at her church. She encouraged local churches to celebrate fathers the next year on Sunday, June 19, the date of her fatherís birthday. Her father, William Smart, was a widower in the 1800ís who lovingly raised his six children after his wife died giving birth to the youngest. The holiday was made permanent in 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed a presidential resolution that made the third Sunday in June officially Fatherís Day in the United States. Early Jewish fathers were diligent in instructing their children in the ways and words of God for their own spiritual development and well-being. (Eph 6:4). The Christian father is the training instrument to teach the child, through the Bible, how to fear, love, and honor God. Children love to learn by imitating their fathers. My husband loves to whistle, and many times I have heard our children whistling. Remember that it is not what you say, but what you do that will impress on their young spirits the ways of life. There is nothing that touches a childís spirit more than to have their father intercede for them in prayer and to call out the good things that are in them. Our children love their nightly prayer huddle when their father prays over them. God created fathers to stand tall before their children so they would have someone to look up to, and pattern after. He gave them tender hearts for their children, but also the ability to discern and judge fairly. He made their hands large enough for children to feel protected in and to open up to. He gave them strong shoulders to carry them, and big feet to display shoes that will cause growth to fill. Little boys love to shuffle around the house in their fatherís big shoes. God gave a heavenly order for the family. In the Bible, Father God gave commands, and Jesus carried out His will and commands. (Joh 12:49-50). Jesus learned obedience. Children need to learn obedience and that is something that has to be taught in the home. Love and discipline walk hand in hand. One of the hardest points of transitioning our newly adopted older children into our home has been to set the lines of acceptable conduct, and to firmly, with Godís love, help them come into those lines. When they do come into the lines, they experience a peaceful security that is visible in their lives. After we brought our ten-year-old daughter, Faith, home from China, she later told me, ďWhen I first saw Papa, I thought to myself, ĎHe is the biggest person I ever saw!íĒ It wasnít long before she was the apple of her fatherís eye. It didnít take any time for her to find out that anything that needed fixing, her father could do it. When the studies came for school, he was the one who had the best help for her. When he speaks, she listens with ears to hear. As a teenager, her father lovingly told her that He would hold the boys at bay until she was of age to marry or enter her mission field. There was a struggle at first, but then Faith decided to make a covenant with God not to date. With that promise fulfilled, she is now confidently planning a marriage this summer with her father officiating as a blessing upon the union. Our communities desperately need committed Christian fathers who will pastor their families, and also orphans, as God intended! (Jas 1:27). Ravi was a small boy from a poor area of BogotŠ, Columbia. His mother died when he was three years old. A month after her death, Ravi, while looking for food, noticed his father cutting up bananas. He asked for some, but His father refused and became angry. When the little boy pleaded for one small bite, his father jumped up and stabbed his sonís neck, and then slit his throat twice. Neighbors found the dying child and took him to a hospital where he miraculously survived. Ravi was placed in an orphanage. For two years he barely spoke and showed signs of trauma and mental disturbance. Then a man and his wife decided to adopt Ravi. The man was warned not to adopt Ravi by his own father. A psychologist friend counseled him that Ravi would have physical, mental, and emotional injuries as a result of what had happened, and would show signs of that trauma the rest of his life. But the man and his wife believed that any child could flourish in spite of having had to endure the most horrifying circumstances. Though the father had never seen Ravi in person, he looked forward to adopting him as his son. The day came when they went to pick up little Ravi at the airport. The husband and wife waited impatiently while hundreds of people cleared customs and immigration. The father recalls, ďI recognized our contact person emerging from the crowd. He held the hand of this thin little boy whose dark brown eyes rapidly scanned the lines of waiting people. I leaped over the ropes, knelt directly in the path of this youngster and reached out my hands to him. He smiled at me. He knew! Then he lunged forward and jumped into my arms. I loved him from the very first instant.Ē For the first six months, Ravi held on to his fatherís leg as if to anchor himself. He didnít talk much, even in Spanish. Through the years, this little guy developed into a fine athlete and honor student. In 1991, Ravi gave a speech in an auditorium filled with his classmates and was elected president of three grades A fatherís love presented this child an opening to inspire others. God chose Abraham so that he would direct his children. (Ge 18:19). God chose Raviís father, and God chooses you to direct your family, and also children who are orphans. The presence of committed Christian fathers is crucial to the moral, social, and spiritual progress of our communities. Fatherhood is a God thing!