My father’s birthday was this week. He would have been 104. But he has spent his last 12 birthdays celebrating in a far better place. He was a remarkable man: a scholar and an author and a man who passionately loved the Word of God. He was also a wise and loving father. How often I wish that I could talk with Him, especially to ask him questions about the Old Testament, his specialty field of study and his passion. June was his month. The month of his birth, the month of his death, the month of his and my mom’s anniversary—and Father’s Day. Much for me to give thanks for in June.
As Father’s Day approaches, my Thankful List includes several other fathers. First, of course, Woody. Our kids would be happy to tell you what a great father they had. And now that they are raising their own families, two of them are fantastic fathers themselves, and our daughter is married to one. My heart overflows when I visit in each of their homes and watch them loving their kids so well. There is so much grace, so much laughter—and above all, I see Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78 lived out before my eyes. By no means are they perfect; like all of us, they are flawed even though redeemed. But they are faithful. The love of God implanted in their hearts overflows to their children in their walk, their talk, their daily lives. They are indeed telling “the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. . . . so the next generation would know [Him], even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children, that they would put their trust in God . . .” (Psalm 78, selected from verses 4-7) Is there any greater joy?
But there is, for many of you reading this, I would guess, another side to Father’s Day. There can be that same maelstrom of emotions engendered by Mother’s Day (see previous blog post). For all too many, there is the “father who wasn’t there.” By death or abandonment or just plain emotional unavailability, the father you always wanted just never showed up. Or maybe he was there but was so damaging you almost wished he wasn’t—and then felt guilty about that. Pain deeper than words.
And then there are many of you whose own children aren’t fathering the way you had hoped they would. Remember that God isn’t finished yet—with any of us. And especially not your sons or sons-in-law. Stay on your knees.
And there are also my precious friends who are mourning the loss of their sons. Some were fathers but left their children too soon. Some never got to be fathers. And one of my dearest friends is at this moment holding a precious little granddaughter her son never got to see. Are there any words for this kind of pain? If so, I don’t know them. But I cherish these friends. And I pray. For them, and for any of you for whom Father’s Day is more lament than celebration.
Amazingly, by God’s grace, there is for all of us reason to celebrate Father’s Day. I say this not as a bland platitude or easy answer. I say this because it is Eternal Truth. Every one of us who knows Jesus and walks with God has a Perfect Father. A Forever Father. One who is “. . . merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” (Psalm 103:8—love that KJV I memorized long ago). One Who not only will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5b), but Who also rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). That One. Our great, good Father.
As the Chris Tomlin song reminds us,
Happy Father’s Day to every one of you!