June is the month for brides, fathers, and sunburns. Sensitive winterized skin is finally revealed to bright summer sunlight and is often overexposed in the process. Of course many weddings are also planned for this month and Father’s Day is always observed on the third Sunday.
Being a father is a great privilege and one for which I’m very thankful. It’s also a huge responsibility that none of us dads should take lightly. God has entrusted us with some of the most important work ever, commanding us to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Sadly, many children grow up without fathers and the consequences affect not only them but all of us. According to fatherhood.org children without fathers in their homes are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and twice as likely to drop out of school. Dadless daughters are seven times more likely to become pregnant as teenagers and fatherless infants have double the mortality risk.
Children raised only by their mothers also have more behavioral problems and are twice as likely to become obese. It is clear that God knew what He was doing when He made it impossible for a child to be conceived without both mom and dad. His plans always work best and we modify them to our own hurt.
Children of fatherless homes are also at four times greater risk of poverty. This concern reminds me of our Heavenly Father who owns all wealth. Although He is generous and shares with all, there are special blessings that only those who have accepted His invitation of adoption enjoy.
I’m not referring to finances, although He is capable of blessing in that way as well, but of intangibles such as peace, joy, and comfort. In addition, the protection that He provides to us is impossible to assess in dollar figures.
Sadly, many of us love our Father’s stuff more than we love Him. We enjoy His gift of Creation by swimming in His rivers, kayaking in His lakes, hiking in His mountains, and breathing His air. We love His gifts of food chowing down on seafood, steak, bread, vegetables, and more. We cherish the other people He put in our lives as family and friends and we use our health to pursue our dreams of happiness.
None of these are wrong in and of themselves so long as we don’t love the gifts more than the Giver. In one of Jesus’ famous parables, the Prodigal Son, Tim Keller observed that both sons loved their father’s things much more than they loved their father. One of them took his inheritance and left to live it up while the other begrudgingly stayed behind and dutifully worked to earn dad’s special treatment.
Both boys missed the mark because they misunderstood the motive behind their father’s generosity. Their dad loved both of them immensely and desired close relationships with each. Too often we err as either of those two sons. We may take our Father’s gifts and cut off all connection to Him. After all, who needs God when you’re having fun and all is great? Or we dutifully serve without loving Him or sensing His love in return.
As a result of our poor relationship with our Heavenly Father, we begin to exhibit some of the same problems as children growing up without earthly fathers. We overindulge in God’s gifts or become addicted to them. We become bitter or angry toward others or we seek satisfaction in sex and money only to be disappointed by both.
Thankfully, God hasn’t left us. If we have strayed from Him, we can reconnect at any time and place. If we’ve stayed at home but neglected our relationship with Him, we can develop or deepen it through worship, prayer, and fellowship.
As we celebrate Father’s Day, let’s thank God for the fathers in our lives and let’s recognize His fatherhood of us all. May we love Him even more than His things and enjoy His love for us as well.