Fatherhood is a miracle really, yet fathering a child requires very little of a man. When I look at the spectrum of fathers in the world today, I would have to borrow a few lines from Dickens and say “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.” (From “A Tale of Two Cities”) Surely all children live the truth of those words to different proportions.
In spiritual terms I love the title of “Abba Father”….or as we would call it “Daddy”. Think about how people view God. Some see God as the austere disciplinarian, ready to smite us for the smallest of sins, always in a judgmental upheaval and ready to make us pay hard time for our misdeeds. Some see God as the “big guy” who really doesn’t care much about the details of their lives, who indulgently (and rather thoughtlessly) forgives anything we do, who doesn’t need a lot of our attention but who we call on when desperation hits. Other see him as Daddy, who knows us and walks with us every day, who desires to spend time with us, who knows and cares about our character, and tirelessly tries to shape every area of our lives into the best it can be.
I think Abba Father is the closest and most developed relationship to God. God’s child who is cherished, God’s child who is known, the child who is loved with a mature, solid and unselfish love. The child who is cared for so much that close attention is paid to them, but it is not the attention of rose colored glasses. The child in whom an investment is made, for their whole lives. The child worth giving up all for, but yet who is required to honor their heritage.
Most people know I have strong feelings of parenthood. Sometimes I want to knock a few heads together and say “Don’t you realize the privilege you have been granted? Don’t you realize the great responsibility you have taken on?” So many don’t seem to get it. They don’t realize they are the people that are most responsible for this child’s physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and educational needs. They blame teachers, they blame churches, they blame the Republicans, Democrats, Obama, Bush, they blame society as a whole. But really, while a village raises a child you fathers and mothers are the first line of responsibility,
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of forethought for what the needs of the child are as they develop. There doesn’t seem to be a thought on how their actions impact the brains of their child. There doesn’t seem to be purposeful sacrifice. Realization that you have to teach your child to treat you with respect and honor, so they will respect and honor themselves and others. Realization that a child has to grow up with a healthy view of self….that they aren’t perfect, but yet still they are amazing and a wonder to behold. There doesn’t seem to be a realization that sometimes you must shelter your child, but you also have to teach them by letting them live in the real world. They can’t live their life in a Disney movie, or God would have created us in bubbles in which to insulate ourselves.
Bad fathers have done a lot of damage to our world…..good daddies have repaired a lot of that damage. Fatherhood is hard work if done well. You have to admit a bit of inadequacy. But inadequate as you may be, you can’t just watch the lives if your children unfold like you are watching a movie as a mere audience member. You are not your child’s babysitter. No one owes you money or kudos for doing the job the title requires. You have to do the work. Hopefully the child will grow to show you love and honor, but maybe not. Be their daddy anyway. It’s not one of those jobs you do for the rewards… It’s the job you do because it is your responsibility. And even in the hardest of times, it is a privilege and an honor you have been granted.
Thanks to all the fathers, who have created all of the fearfully and wonderfully made beings on our planet. Whether intentional or by accident, you have changed our world. But special thanks to all of you daddies out there, who spend time with your child and don’t tune them out. Who teach them, challenge them, delight them, and discipline them. Who strive to know them better than anyone else on the planet. Whatever the age of your child, they need the special love only you can give. They need your guidance, they need your care. You were created to be their daddy…..please strive to do it well. And if you feel inadequate, a little Abba Father time may teach you just what you need to know.
Daddy….I do believe it is one of the world’s most beautiful words. Especially when it goes beyond a noun and becomes a verb.