As week 4 of Bring Faith Home centers on the Lord's Prayer, I chose to focus on the importance of Fatherhood in reference to our Heavenly Father. If you want to skip down to the last section, you'll find the heart of how we can Bring Faith Home this week!
The birth of our son three months ago means this year is the first that our little family is celebrating fathers day in-house.
It’s strange, but not for all the reasons you’d expect.
Sure, it’s strange because my whole frame of reference has changed; there’s now a small human who relies on me in every possible way. That’s a bigger step than when we got our dog.
But the real strangeness I’m wrestling with is the version of fatherhood I’ve experienced and what seems to be the assumed perspective of the rest of the world.
Maybe it’s me that’s weird and unrealistic. Maybe I’m making too big a deal out of this topic. Maybe I need to get off my high horse.
Then again, maybe there’s some staggering implications to the Lord’s Prayer being addressed to “Our Father…”
WHAT’S AROUND US
Seeing the funny fathers day cards, you’d think that Dad’s are just a bunch of goofy guys with bad jokes just looking for the path of least resistance to the golf course or fishing boat.
That, or they are a race of men who are unable to eat anything that is not grilled meat or beer (and have the tummy to reflect that).
But it’s not just the cards.
The dad trope is a staple of sitcom TV. He’s usually wrong, pretty ineffective, but no one wants to pop his delusion that he is still in charge.
How many comedies center around the modern-primitive man who is focused on what’s to eat, what’s on TV, and who’s in the bedroom?
WHAT’S EXPECTED OF US
The example in the Lord’s Prayer is crucial to how we see the role of dad (which informs how we see faith being nurtured in the home).
Listen to this explanation for why we call God “Our Father.”
“With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.”– Martin Luther
This is a bit different than the tone set around us.
Here the Father is respected, but not only because of what He does.
“Holy is Your Name” … What does this mean? God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also. God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!– Martin Luther
Our Father in heaven is deserving of our love and trust because of both WHO HE IS and WHAT HE DOES.
And those actions towards us are far more than any earthly father gives.
God doesn’t teach us to shave, buy us a car, and tell us bad jokes that make our eyes roll. That’s the high bar the world sets for dads (absenteeism is, unfortunately, also an acceptable expectation).
God teaches us to number our days (that is appreciate life), buys us a place and purpose in His Kingdom, and tells us the tender reassurances of His Son, our Brother, Jesus: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you… I have called you by name and you are mine.”
WHAT FATHERHOOD MEANS TO ME
So when I compare the fatherhood example of the world with the fatherhood example of God, I realize quickly what father’s day is really all about.
It’s not about tee time. It’s not about getting the boat out. It’s not even about taking an uninterpreted nap after church (impossible with a 3 month old anyway).
Let me share a brief, but vulnerable story about how our heavenly Father has shown me true fatherhood:
The other night, our son had a meltdown.
I had no answers and both my wife and I were frustrated. It’s embarrassing to say, but I lost my cool.
While in the kitchen, waiting for a bottle to heat up (because maybe this time he’s crying for hunger as opposed to when we checked 10 minutes ago) I smacked my fist down on the counter with a heavy sigh and some unsavory words to myself.
If my son ever did that, I’d be disappointed.
That’s not the example I am called to set for him.
So later that night, when he finally calmed down, I talked to him and said,
Son, I need to apologize and ask for your forgiveness. How I responded earlier was wrong. That’s not how a man should ever respond to a situation, especially a father to his kid. I can’t promise you that it will never happen again, but I can promise you that if it does, I will apologize and ask for your forgiveness again. Because while I can’t be a perfect father, I can at least show you how to say you’re sorry. And if that’s the only lesson you ever learn from me, then I’ve done my job, because then you’re ready to learn from your true, heavenly Father.
That’s my idea of fatherhood: Holding my son in one arm, putting my other around my wife, and admitting that I am wholly unqualified to stand there without God.
And that’s why this week, I hope you’ll take seriously the invitation from God, and pray to Him with sincere hearts, as children coming to their dear Daddy.
As brought up in the final session of Bring Faith Home, one of the most profound and simplest ways to impact your kids this summer is to start saying “I’m sorry, please forgive me.”
It teaches so many lessons all at once: humility, apology, redemption, etc.
It also lives out the Lord’s Prayer this week: “Our Father in heaven… forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us…”
So Bring Faith Home this week by bringing home the example of true fatherhood.
Show humility over strength, confession over pride, and our Heavenly Father’s forgiveness over our sinful brokenness.