Hope For Fathers
I am a total morning person. I love waking up early and starting my day when my house is still quiet and the sun is just starting up the backside of the Sandias (everyone who hates mornings and morning people can roll their eyes now). One of my favorite parts of the morning is being with my son. When he first hears me, his tiny bare feet slap the hardwood floor as he runs to the door and peeks his head in. With a smile filled with only four teeth he says “Hi!” in one short, excited breath. I have only been his dad for a little over a year, but that’s all it has taken for me to love him with my whole heart and for me to realize how desperately I need grace and hope in Jesus.
In a few Sundays, it will be Father’s Day. As I write this, one of my best friends is with his wife at the hospital encouraging and supporting her through labor as he waits to become a dad. I think about being a dad a lot. I think about friends and people I meet who don’t have dads. I think about my brother whose dad was never around and the devastation it caused. I think about being raised by a man who didn’t know or love Jesus and how thankful I am that he does now. I think about how grateful I am to have a son, I think about the things I want to do with him, the memories I hope to make, and often times, I think about how I have let him down as his dad.
John writes in 1 John 4:18“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Often, I act in a way that is inconsistent with the gospel towards my son. I am selfish, impatient, irrational and can be quick to anger. I am annoyed when he throws his food on the floor that I just cleaned. I lose my temper when he whines because he doesn’t get what he wants. I only think about how much I deserve to sit on the couch after a long day when he wants to read a book. When I react out of anger or frustration, I am not showing my son love, but rather, I am instilling fear in his heart.
When my son does something disobedient, I can find myself disciplining him from a heart that wants his behavior to align with my selfish desires. I don’t want him to kick gravel all over our backyard because I will be the one who has to pick it up. I don’t want him to throw a tantrum in public because I will have to deal with the public embarrassment. Hebrews 12 makes clear that we ought to discipline our children not from a place of selfishness but from love. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Not only because we love our children, but also because we long for them to be holy. “but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” I wish I could say that my heart was always for my son’s holiness, but unfortunately this is an area where I fall short.
Luckily for all fathers (and their children), there is hope in our Heavenly Father and his heart towards his children. One the most beautiful pictures of the Father’s love for his children is in Genesis 3:21 “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” We read earlier in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve deliberately defied God by eating fruit from the one tree in the Garden of Eden that he commanded them not to. This single act not only ushered in sin, but it also brought death into the world. Even then, the Father shows great compassion and grace for his son and daughter by clothing them with garments of skins so that they would not be ashamed of their nakedness. This puts my son throwing noodles on the ground and whining into perspective. The Father loved Adam and Eve perfectly in the midst of their sin and longed for their holiness. From the Garden of Eden to the cross, God the Father has covered his children’s sin in love and grace, even when it was seemingly impossible to do so. This gives all fathers hope that we have a heavenly Father who loves us perfectly and gives us the grace to love our children as we are called to.