Father's Day is a day to celebrate the men that God has placed in our lives who have helped raise, teach, nurture and love us while here on this earth. Often in the church, we celebrate mothers on Mother's Day, and then on Father's Day we take time to point out mistakes and flaws and things that dad's could and should do better. I am a father, and I have been blessed with a loving, Godly, father who has helped me to be who I am today. But make no mistake, Fatherhood is not for the weak-hearted.
God often gives scripture that comes to mind in times of trouble and in difficult times. One scripture that comes to mind as I think of fatherhood is Deuteronomy 31: 6. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” This is Moses speaking to Joshua as he hands over the reins of leadership to his young successor. In fact, Joshua is told to be strong and courageous at least ten times. This advice I think is fitting for fathers of all ages.
When my first child was born we were in seminary at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We were seven hours away from any family and the only type of family we had were friends we had made during our time at school. Dana went into labor on a Sunday and labored for 24 hours before the doctor finally said that she would need an emergency C-section. When our son was born he was rushed into the Neonatal ICU and stayed there for seven days. Not knowing what was going to happen and not knowing what to do I was comforted by two people, my father and Dana's father. They drove seven hours and walked through this time with Dana and me. They comforted me because they had already "been through the fire".
Later we added to our family a baby girl and another baby boy. From that time to now we have been through multiple trips to the emergency room; I can't count how many family crisis events; broken hearts; celebrations; and just life. I have had the joy of seeing two of my children graduate from Albertville High School, one starting high school this coming year. I've dropped one child off at college three and a half hours away with tears in my eyes and will be doing that again in August.
There is no step-by-step instruction manual for being a father. There are some that are really good and some that aren't so good. I don't consider myself to be an expert on the subject. But what I can tell you is this. Fatherhood takes strength and courage that we as men don't have on our own. As you look back to the original scripture take notice that after Moses says to Joshua "be strong and courageous" he says "for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” The strength you need comes only from God. And He knows because He is our heavenly father.
Some people may think, "Well I've had a terrible father who abused me or mistreated me." But remember, you have a heavenly father who loves you so much that, while you are a sinner, he sent his son to die for you. God first loved us to show us what love is and just how to love. So as we celebrate Father's day, honor your earthly father. It's not an easy job. And remember, your heavenly father loves you and will never leave you or forsake you.
Brent Roe is senior pastor at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.