God, as our heavenly father, gives us the greatest example of fatherhood. This Father’s Day we are looking at the different aspects of God’s fatherhood towards us, and the privilege men have in representing the father heart of God, not only to their own children, but to the fatherless as well.
One of my toughest moments as a father came many years ago when my second oldest, Ryan, was about 10 years old. I was in a meeting here at church when the secretary came down and pulled me out. She told me Ryan had been hit by a car. I immediately drove home in a matter of seconds.
Can you just sit here and let us look at you for a few minutes?
That’s what it seems to be like; just a few minutes.
Here’s one thing the Lord says about Him being a father…
Psalm 103.10-14 “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”
God is a Father, as a matter of fact, the ultimate Father. As such, any earthly father has an example, a pattern to follow as we see God acting as and being the Heavenly Father.
So where do we see God being a Father?
The first example is in what we just read in Psalms 103. We find that the Lord pities his children. That brings us to our first characteristic of a father.
Kids are more on their own overall than ever. Parents are working so many hours, involved in so many things. Or fathers are simply completely absent. No wonder that so many people growing up now bring shame. They are twisted out of shape simply because they are left out and left alone to bring themselves up. Be present, fathers! We can’t be God, but note what He says to His children: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
God is a Connector. The goal of being present is connection, real connection with your children. So if they’re little, you get down, physically, to their level. If they’re older, you age appropriately to get wherever they are, to whatever they’re interested in. Even if you’re not. Don’t let them know that. A secure connection is what God has established with His children and that’s what you provide to yours by time and attention. Engage them. Speak their language.
God has “visited” His people.
Provide spiritual advantages through Sunday school, Bible reading, prayer and a good example of a spiritual person yourself. The most important provision is the spiritual provision.
One of my sons was going to high school at Brockport. He came home one day and described to me an incident in a classroom where the teacher just lost it, got angry and threw some desks around. After doing some research to see if he was innocent or provoking, we found out that he was innocent, we learned another student had gotten this teacher out of control. The next day I arranged a meeting with the principal and vice principal. I explained my son’s version of the story, with him present, expressed my concern for the teacher, and said that he at least needed to apologize to the students affected, my son included. He did. The very next opportunity.
Would that have happened if I didn’t step in? Maybe not. But all our kids knew that I would stand with them.
This is a tough, scary world. Enemies are often quietly behind the scenes looking for ways to get to our kids. Internet, social media, TV, movies, books and everything else needs a leash so that they don’t bite our kids. Friendships and relationships are the most important area for us to guard, as right relationships help and wrong relationships derail. But you can’t choose their friends for them, right? Ah, we do. When we protect.
Does God do this? You bet He does. In Psalm 121 there are some fabulous father statements. Like “The Lord is your keeper” in verse 5. The English word “keeper,” “keep,” or “preserve” is used six times in that Psalm. The Hebrew word in the original is the word “shamar” which means “to look at you with attention, with defense, preservation and active help at the ready.” God will shamar you. Fathers, you are called to shamar children.
All that being said, let’s say the obvious. This is a fatherless generation we live in. Fatherlessness is the reason that we see such a rise in violence, prison populations and difficulties in classrooms. It’s the reason that we’ve departed from common sense and it’s the reason that sheer godlessness is rampant. So what can we do? I mean, they’re not our responsibility, right?
God is a Father to the fatherless, He says. If it’s His example we’re following, we are called to be fathers to the fatherless of this generation. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you take kids into your home, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t either. You reach to any child, any young person you can, and be present, provide and protect. No, you won’t be able to do that with every fatherless one. But you can do that for some.
When you do so you’re being like God. God identifies Himself as a “Father to the fatherless.”