Time to Be a Father

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Time to Be a Father

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Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound -- it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Superman!"

We all recognize that phrasing to describe Superman, the man of steel, who has no equals, no fears and no weaknesses except kryptonite.

But let me phrase it a little different and see if you know who this describes: Works hard and long hours to provide for his family, able to leap toys left on the floor or in the driveway, can comfort "owies" and hurt feelings, is limited by time and space and personal weaknesses.
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Does that description sound like a super hero, like Superman, or does it sound like just plain men? That, as we are well aware, is what we are, just plain men. Each with our own talents and abilities, but without the superhuman power of Superman. With work, family, spiritual responsibilities and all the various things which pull us in so many different directions, it seems we need to be superhuman. Especially if we are parents.

In America this month we will be celebrating a day set aside to honor men who are fathers. Men who along with all their other responsibilities in life also have the responsibility of child rearing. That often seems like the toughest or most challenging of our jobs.

With Father's Day here, take a moment to reflect on your father or, for you fathers, your own fatherhood.

Time spent together

In our society, it is all too easy to think about the bad aspects of our parents. Today, instead of individuals taking responsibility for their actions, it seems everything is often blamed on bad parenting. I spent time going through dozens of quotes concerning fathers and parenting and at least 80 percent of them dealt with negative aspects.

We all know the Fifth Commandment, which tells us to honor our mother and father. This is still a commandment whether our parents make it easy for us or not.

My dad was not perfect as a father and, if I let myself, I can dwell on the negative. But I try to remember the good. The majority of my best and favorite memories of my father are all associated with time. Time that he spent with my siblings and me. Time with my father, as is often the case, was a prized commodity. Most of my childhood memories of my father consist of one of two things: he was either sleeping or getting ready to go to work. The time that we actually spent together stands out in my memories.

Fisherman

From what I understand, my father was an avid hunter and fisherman as a young man. I have a wonderful memory of the first time he took me and my brothers fishing. There were four of us boys with worms on hooks, lines in the water and anticipation of what might happen next. We had our instructions: to yank the pole if the bobber went under the waterline. As it was, (according to my memory -- there is some debate among the brothers) my bobber went under first. Since my dad cast the line only a few feet from the shore, no reeling was necessary. One good yank from an excited 6-year-old had the small fish flopping on the shore, fortunately with lips still attached.

Unsure what the fish might do to me, I took off running with pole in hand and fish bouncing behind. I was certain it was chasing me, and I continued running until my dad caught up and saved me from what seemed like a boy-eating blue gill.

I am grateful for that memory and others produced from time spent with my father.

Turning hearts

It is extremely important to God that we as fathers turn our hearts to the children so that the hearts of the children will turn to us: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6 Malachi 4:5-6 [5] Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: [6] And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
American King James Version×
). The word "curse" actually means "utter destruction."

We know that there are many ramifications to these verses, but one important aspect of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers is to spend time together.

It doesn't matter if a child is actually fatherless or the father just doesn't spend time with him or her. The effects are the same. The lack of an active father leaves a vacuum in a child's life; a vacuum most often filled with anger. Anger which is often directed at any and all authority figures. Along with anger comes discouragement and often depression. How often do we see these effects in our society?
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"Children's children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father" (Proverbs 17:6 Proverbs 17:6Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.
American King James Version×
). Children whose friends can see that their fathers love them and spend time with them are envied! Many times children who don't have fathers, or whose fathers don't spend time with them, latch on to the fathers of their friends.

How do we become the glory of our children? By spending time with them and giving them the attention that they need.

On the other hand, it is important, no matter our age and no matter the parenting abilities of our parents, that each of us honors our mother and father as God commands.

There is a growing phenomenon in our society: the elderly are ignored. Many parents who did not spend time with their children and chose to pursue careers or other interests are now put away in nursing homes and forgotten.

But as parents get older, the need for honor from their children becomes greater. Our society is set up in such a way that as we go on with our lives, it becomes difficult to have time with our parents. The cycle that started with parents not spending time with their children reaches full circle.

"To honor" is a very important verb to God: "You shall rise up before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD" (Leviticus 19:32 Leviticus 19:32You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×
).

Make the commitment

Making the commitment to spend time with your children is not the only step in successful parenting, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

Making the commitment to spend time with your father and mother, to honor them when they are old, even if they did not spend enough time with you when you were young, is another huge step in the right direction.

God places great importance on time with family. What is our purpose for existing? Is it not to be part of God's family in the Kingdom of God and spending eternity with our Father in heaven?