Today across America, we are honoring our Fathers. Since 1922, the third Sunday in June has been set aside to pay such tribute.
God commands us in Exodus 20.12 to “honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
I can still picture, ever so clearly through my eyes as a child, my own father, Bishop Haymon, standing mid-mountain-stream in hip waders. He’s casting and reeling, searching out underwater dens for the unsuspecting lunker of a Rainbow trout. Secretly envious of his ability to fill his stringer with his many catches, I just couldn’t (still can’t!) understand his “luck!”
From the bank of the icy, swift, deep and mysterious waters of such a river, I can see him working his way back to me, my hands tightly gripping a child’s-version Zebco rod and reel. He asks, “Ready to go across?” Quickened pulse, not a bit afraid, I readily agree, and climb aboard his strong, Daddy shoulders. Ever so carefully, he carries me out into the rushing, perilous water. One thing stands out in my memory: NO HURRY. Although an unexpected current presses against Dad’s legs, or a river rock wobbles under his feet, causing a pause or a slight shift, I know I’m safe! Tedious, careful, deliberate steps carry me, high and dry, through the river’s middle, right on to the other side. Settling me on the opposite bank, it’s only natural to look back and see where we’ve come from. Wow! What a Dad! Thank you for the ride!
Today, as a father of three growing children, I am blessed to say again, Wow! What a father the Lord gave me! Any successes I may enjoy as a father, I owe to His strong shoulders. Thankfully, his shoulders didn’t only carry his young son, but also the burden of a secure future for his family and the church of his founding. We’re blessed to be “high and dry,” aren’t we?! He truly has taught me how keep my “legs” under me as his successor.
Do you know why God commands us to honor our fathers? One significant reason is found in the meaning of the word “father.” In the verb form, “father” means “the founder, to be the foundation.”
You fathers are the founders, the shoulders of your home! God wants you to carry a God-loving, God-fearing, God-honoring home, confidently through the murky, deadly waters of the world.
Men, get the instructions that God has given us in Psalm 78.5-7,
“For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may raise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”
Fathers, we are commanded to teach and to point our children to God. Here’s why: So that they may have confidence in God and keep His commandments. Your shoulders are your family’s ultimate representation of God’s capability to carry them and their convictions safely from one trial, one heartache, one generation to the next. The closing of the “generation gap,” it turns out, is the responsibility of every father.
The New Testament tells us something similar in Ephesians 6.4,
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
And the word translated “admonition” means to put something into the mind. Fathers, you are to be putting something into the minds of your children, namely, the Word of God!
Dads, let’s keep those shoulders strong and those feet secure. Unexpected pressures and unforeseeable terrain under the surface may keep us praying, but commit today to building quality time into your transferences of discipline, wisdom, and God’s Word. Don’t lose heart! We’re closer to the other side than ever.
God bless you and Happy Father’s Day!