Monday, January 14, 2013

When a Father Walks by Your Side

Little do we realize the blessed privilege it is to have a father walk by our side. Even if it is for but a very short time, God uses the role of a father in our lives that leaves an indelible touch upon our character

It isn’t easy to be a father. It never has been. Every father has a tender place in his heart where he knows that at times, he has fallen short of being the Dad his kids needed him to be at some integral time in their childhood. We all have experienced that regret as a father. 

We know the times that we have let our children down, and as a consequence we have fallen from that privileged place of being the perfect father, their number 1 hero, and the only one they could always depend upon who would always protect them and never let them down. 

That is quite a challenging place to be in, while we see our own imperfections in the mirror of our soul. We fathers will all at some time, let our children down in one way or another. It is inevitable. At times, it tugs at the periphery of your mind like a hungry mosquito on a hot summer night. Always there, but hard to see, let alone deal with it. 

The role and responsibility of being a father seems indelibly laced with more chances to fail, than to succeed. Deep inside, we want to be the best fathers we can be. It is sobering to remember that we are called to be their father, and that may at times prevent us from being their "Best Friend."

The Heartache of a Father

There are fathers across the world, who are unable to be with their children today for many reasons. They may be away on the battlefield as a soldier; they may be working at a job in a faraway place that did not allow them to be with their children this day; their children may not wish to be with them or are being prevented from being with them; or their child may have passed away, or they may not even know where their child is. 

The Primary Responsibility of a Father

Every child ever brought in this world bears the mark of Adam in his or her nature, and is born with an innate bent toward rebellion and resisting any kind of authority 

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5

Any parent who remembers the toddler stage, sometimes called the terrible 2’s, knows this tendency well. As childish rebellion begins to emerge, the power struggle becomes the primary stress in parenting, especially if you were blessed with a strong willed child.

Fathers (parents) are called upon, as they discipline their children to 

“not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:2)

There is such a challenging balance between disciplining them and instructing them, and no one will do it perfectly. 

The Primary Responsibility of every Child

Children are called upon to honor and obey their parents. This is the primary way they can demonstrate their respect and love for them. 

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Eph. 6:1-3)

The Primary Goal of the Heavenly Father

God’s primary goal for all fathers is for them to be a catalyst to begin the work of shaping the will of their children to willingly yield to Him one day, without breaking the child’s spirit.

Fathers are to seek to shape each child's innermost heart with the Word of God as His map, and the heart of God as his method ( See Psalm 119).  He desires fathers to teach their children the Scriptures so as to know and practice right from wrong, and ultimately to turn their lives over to their God, who reigns over their destiny (See Deuteronomy 6:1-9). They too must ultimately learn that one day they will stand before God to give an account of their life, and they must understand that before they head out into the world as adults. 

The Problem with Free Will

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.”      
( Ezekiel 18:4)

Because every child can exercise free will to choose or reject a father’s counsel, we as fathers have very little control over the outcomes of the children we have born into this world. They must make a well informed choice one day. 

“…the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son…” (Ezekiel 18:20)

Every child must someday yield their life individually to the Heavenly Father, and repent of their sin, and accept His Son’s sacrifice to give them access to His Kingdom and His heart.

“But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die (referring to eternal death as opposed to physical death).” (Ezekiel 18:21)

A Precious and Privileged Adoption

Jesus called out to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of His crucifixion using an intimate form of the word we know as "Daddy."

“…and He was saying, “ Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”  Mark 14:36

As joint-heirs with Christ we are adopted into that privileged intimate role when we are made a new creation in Christ, whereby we can call out to our Heavenly Father using the same precious endearment.

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “ Abba! Father! Romans 8:15

“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “ Abba! Father!”  Galatians 4:6

The Heartache of the Heavenly Father

He Gave a Priceless Gift

The Heavenly Father has provided a sin bearer to take away our sins. His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ. We will never in this lifetime understand or fully appreciate the incredible cost that provided a means for us to have access to the Father Heart of God.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

By accepting Jesus Christ’s vicarious substitutionary sacrifice, the fallen nature of Adam will be replaced by Christ’s nature, and a person's sins will reach back to Calvary, where Jesus has already paid the price. He died for each of our children and all of mankind. 

It came at a Terrible Cost

We had a debt that we could not pay, so He paid the debt that He did not owe.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation."

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  ( II Corinthians 5:17-21)

He Understands the Heartache of Being a Father

Remember this, the best of fathering cannot always guarantee the best of outcomes. The law of sowing and reaping does provide a principle here, for in reality, good fathering generally produces children who respect authority, respond to parental counsel, and ultimately have been led to embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. However, that is simply not always the case. 

God the Father was and is a  perfect parent, who provided a sinless innocent nature in Adam and Eve, and a perfect home with ample privileges and previsions, and they chose to rebel against Him and sin.   

That choice, created a cancerous supernatural spiritual cell, laced with a toxic defective spiritual DNA, which ultimately has destined every one of us to physical and eternal death. He understands how hard it is to be a loving father, and yet have His children rebel and sin.

Remember that your Heavenly Father is there for you and He is as close as a prayer away in The Quiet Place. Seek him today, and worship Him as you discover the Father Heart of God for yourself.