A FATHER’S LOVE
And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (Luke 15:20 NKJV).
Father’s Day is just around the corner. It is a day that will be celebrated in honor of fathers, and their contributions to the lives of their children and family. The reality is, there might be mixed reactions as to how some fathers should be honored? First, are children who would be questioning the need to celebrate and honor their fathers? The second group will be mothers, who out of courtesy would reluctantly beg their children to do something in honor of their fathers. The last and third group will be children who wholeheartedly will honor and shower gifts and words of appreciation on their fathers.
The above scenarios are measurements indicating the extent of a father’s involvement in the lives of his children from birth to adulthood and beyond. The question is, “Why is that?” The truth is, there is no one single straightforward reason. The following could be some of the reasons: 1. The father’s refusal for accepting responsibility for the pregnancy (in cases outside of marriage). 2. The father is always preoccupied with work and other important things that are near and dear to his heart other than his children. 3. The father spent little or no quality time with his children. 4. The father could not afford to contribute financially towards his children’s upbringing. 5. Mother prevented the father from being involved in his children’s lives. And 6. Mother brainwashed children against their father; and so they did not accept and respect him as such.
The story of the prodigal son is a story that amplifies the best of fatherhood as it exudes forgiveness and love in the face of disobedience, disrespect and disappointment. The story is woven around a son who after he had squandered his father’s wealth (which is his portion of inheritance), came back to him and asked for forgiveness and acceptance. Before a word would roll out of his tongue to his father, his (father) gesture surprised him (son). Jesus explains: And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (Luke 15:20).
The social implications of the passage highlight the heavy responsibilities of being a father. For example: 1. In many cultures around the world, a father is expected to be the head of his family. 2. He is supposed to be the bread winner for his family. 3. He is seen as the priest of his family. 4. He is expected to know everything and be the source of information to his family. 5. He is expected to be the one who disciplines his children and so, often plays the role of a judge in his home. 6. He is expected to be the source of protection and love for his family. And 7. He is expected to be a caring father whose shock absorbers are carved out of empathy, patience and forgiveness. The plain truth is that, many fathers are ill equipped for their “job” because, they did not have any role models growing up. Some also feel helpless and worthless in the eyes of their families simply because they fall short of the standards set up by society.
In my view, I believe every father could attain and maintain his dignity by following the examples of the following biblical role models.
GOD THE FATHER
The story of the prodigal son highlights the nature of God’s love, forgiveness, kindness, patience and reconciliation. The Bible says that: And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (Luke 15:20). Fathers cannot be all round perfect as God the Father is. However, depending on his grace we could demonstrate more love towards our children and bring them closer to ourselves.
Adam was the first man and father on planet earth. His life was marred with his disobedience to God for eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He was the first father to experience family tragedy and dysfunction after Cain killed his brother Abel. Though the Bible is silent on how he (Adam) handled and coped with his grief, we see that he never blamed his wife Eve for the mishap; he rather drew her closer to himself which resulted in the birth of another son – Seth. It is therefore the duty of every father to have the wisdom, courage and grace to handle whatever life would throw at his family without accusing his wife or a member of the family.
Noah lived at a time that violence, corruption and evil were on the rise. Yet in the midst of such a vile environment, he was noted to be righteous in the eyes of God (Genesis 6:9-12). Noah lived in obedience to God and his word; and so was able to save himself, his family and every creature before the flood (Genesis 6:13-22).
Fatherhood is a noble, but complex and tedious responsibility. This requires fathers to seek God for direction in this world of darkness. A father’s desire for living for God in obedience to his word, would undoubtedly enable him to save himself and his family; and gain the respect and dignity he has always looked for.
Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation (Genesis 121-9). God promised him a son with his wife Sarah. Their faith was tested as the fulfillment of this promise unduly delayed. After heeding to his wife, Ishmael was born by Hagar as his mother (Genesis 16). Eventually, God opened the womb of Sarah and Isaac was born; which resulted in sibling rivalry and hatred between Isaac and Ishmael; this led to separation between the two boys (Genesis 21:8-21). Later on, God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac to him. As it turned out, God provided a ram for the sacrifice instead of Isaac (Genesis 22).
Being a father calls for absolute dependence on God and waiting for the supply of the needs of the family. As the head of the family, a father might be fretting about financial solvency in order to meet the needs of his family among other things. From Abraham, we learn that, fathers need to exercise patience in the face of trials and delays. God’s promise may delay, we have to understand that, he is not working according to our earthly time. Waiting for him will bring our miracle of finding that “ram” just in time to meet our needs.
Jacob had twelve sons who became the leaders and fathers of the Jewish nation (Genesis 35:23-26). His life was marked by deceit, sorrow and surprises. The best of Jacob’s fatherhood in my opinion is seen after the death of Rachel his beloved wife. He poured his love into her children (Joseph and Benjamin) who needed more parental affection and attention because of their tender ages. He later ensured that there will be peace between Joseph and his brothers who sold him into slavery in Egypt. This is an important quality which every father should desire to pursue. Fathers know that not all of their children will have the same character traits; there might be some who may turn to be the black sheep among their siblings. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance for fathers to know how to handle such issues should they arise in their family.
JOSEPH (THE FATHER OF JESUS)
Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus. The Bible says that he was righteous man who was pledged to be married to Mary (Matthew 1:18-19). In course of time he found Mary pregnant and decided to divorce her quietly because of her seemingly unfaithfulness until an angel confirmed to him in a dream that, Mary’s pregnancy is of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20-21).
From Joseph, we learn an important quality of being a father; and that is to trust our wives and children. A father’s duty is to build a relationship of transparency, honesty and integrity which can only flourish within an atmosphere of trust.
In conclusion, I want to remind those of us who are fathers to know that it is an honor and a privilege God has given us to serve our wives and children. The stakes are too high for any of us to disappoint God and the precious children he has placed in our care.
Let’s emulate the examples of some of the fathers whose lives are highlighted above; and commit ourselves wholeheartedly by pouring love and care into the lives of our children and spouses.1
On behalf of all of us at Disciples Revival Church I wish all the fathers in our church, our friends and love ones around the world.
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!
My second book titled: Understanding Love: Biblical & Cultural Perspectives has just been released. You may order your copy from Amazon.com or through the Publisher @ www.shidaanikei.com.
My first book; African Spirituality: Did Africans know God before the Arrival of the Missionaries? You purchase a copy at Amazon.com or www.shidaanikei.com
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Rev. Dr. & Rev. (Mrs.) Charles & Faustina Mantey
Disciples Revival Church
30 Gordon Mackay Road
Toronto, Ontario M9N 2V6. Canada
1. Charles Mantey, June 2015, A Father's Love Newsletter
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