It’s Father’s Day and with ample seat time on the tractor yesterday the formulation of this blog has been rolling around in my head. Today has been a big day, a day we laud fathers for their formative influences in our lives. For some this day brings sadness, you see for them to be reminded of their father is to open old wounds. Physical scars can be traced to specific physical abuses, but emotional scars, though every bit as real, can be harder to source. Some may not know their father at all, being abandoned early on.
Today I’ll have celebrated 38 Father’s Days as a father. With five children I rejoice in the profound privilege of being a father. There is nothing to be compared to it. In being dad to Sarah, Hannah, Esther, Nathanael, and Lydia I have experienced incomparable joy; five children and I am rich beyond measure. Each child has brought depth and blessing to my life, and in many ways I recognize to love them and care for them as a proper father is way beyond my natural inclination and gifting.
Each Father’s Day has also brought it’s own sorrow as well. For all of the joy each child brings there is an awareness of my own failures as a father. Age brings perspective. Painful memories abound in the recollections of the ‘what actually is v. what should have been.’ And for each of my children I can recall specific sins and failures in what I’ve thought of them, what I’ve said to them, and what I’ve done to them. Far more serious than simple shortcomings, my children have borne with a sinful father, and yet have done so quite charitably. While my memory is long they’ve graciously kept short accounts
There are no perfect fathers. Some might be better than others, but each must own his failings. This Father’s Day I’m aware of mine. As a Christian I dare not be ashamed to name my weaknesses, failings, and sins as a father. To recount them is painful, but to declare them as so is to acknowledge my insufficiency and need, and thereby to open a channel for grace and help. For the Christian father the confession of inherent insufficiency is to declare the belief in a two-pronged remedy: One, that God hears my cries for help in my paternal shortcomings, and, two, God exchanges my imperfections and sins for His righteousness. By faith and as a father I become the recipient of an alien (outside of myself) righteousness. An exchange takes place that allows me to be a father, with all of my sins, and yet not give up in despair. In Christ all of my fatherly shortcomings have been met. I still move forward in faith to be the dad I should be, and who God calls me to be, but I’m not lost in a death-spiral of never-ending torment of those things I should have done. In this I own my sin without being held captive by it. By faith I trust that I have been helped, I am being helped, and I will be helped in my responsibilities as a father (and now as a grandfather), because God has heard my cry in my weakness and need.
This Father’s Day I’m reminded of the rich blessing of my five children for which I’m eternally grateful, and today I’m reminded of fathering grace that God gives to those men that recognize their all-too-frequent failures and out of that acknowledgement run to God in repentance and faith. Dads, may we together rejoice in the former and abound in the latter.
Father’s Day 2016