Abba Father

This week I attended a memorial service for a young man who died too soon. He had once been a six-year-old  in the Bible club where I was a leader. I remembered him as ambitious, who always tried to have his Bible verses ready to recite each week. Now thirteen years later, he was gone. I mourned his passing. What a tragic waste of a promising future.

I watched his parents leave the auditorium, agony on their faces, devastation in their eyes. With their son’s death so close to Father’s Day, the celebratory holiday would become an annual reminder of what they’d lost. Their grief would not soon pass. I ached for their pain.

This Sunday we will honor our fathers, the family leader that God often favors in His word. In Deuteronomy 6:1, Moses gathered all of Israel together and taught them the standards God wanted them to know. He admonished the fathers to teach the precepts to their sons and grandsons, preserving God’s law among the future generations.

“That you might fear the Lord, your God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments .  .  .you, your son, and your son’s son.”  With the admonition comes a promise that we may live long in the land God gives us.

In Ephesians 6:4, fathers are told to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Anyone who has parented a child knows this is not an easy task.

In this often confused and crazy world, our children are daily subjected to outside influences  that may or may not be good for them.  Staying abreast of everything to which they are exposed requires constant vigil. Correcting misguided ideas takes a strong fatherly figure.  No wonder God gave that responsibility to men.

If your father is still living, honor him this week. For better or for worse, he has paved the way for you, leading you on the narrow path he hopes will keep you safe. Life’s pitfalls turned his hair gray, gave him worry lines across his forehead. But he earned those wounds loving you. Thank him.

Forming A Child’s God Image

Never without a second pursuit to earn extra income, my father defined the word entrepreneur. A tool-and-die maker when his family moved from their big city home to the small mill town where he met my mother, Dad worked as a lumber grader while he and Mom reared their children.

To supplement his earnings, Dad volunteered for odd jobs at the mill, earning precious overtime hours that paid for music lessons, instruments, summer camps, and other extracurricular activities.

The Bible teaches us in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for men.” Working hard would have been my father’s mantra.

At home, he always had a business going. As a small child, I remember the large chicken barn where he and Mom kept Leghorns for several years, raising fryers and selling eggs. They included me, making every duty—gathering and candling eggs, marking laying cards, culling out non-productive hens—important.  

Raising rabbits also made Dad’s money-making schemes. But when the rabbits multiplied—and believe me, they did—his tender heart stood between him and butchering the creatures. The rabbit hutches soon resembled an avalanche with eyes. Difficult to sell a live fryer, fur intact.

Over time Dad investigated chinchillas. Though their furs made them valuable, the rodents were vicious little creatures with nasty habits. When we moved to my grandmother’s century farm just before I entered high school, the chinchillas were sold, the chickens turned loose, and the rabbits skittered for parts unknown.

I will never know how much extra income Dad’s penchant for business earned him. But the lessons I learned watching him be industrious stuck with me. He didn’t fear failure—he only looked for ways to start a new venture. He didn’t believe in being idle.  

In both Colossians 3:21 and Ephesians 6:4 the Bible instructs fathers to not “exasperate their children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  

Psychologists claim earthly fathers shape a child’s perception of God. I thank my father for instilling in me a zest for living and for being the earthly father from whom I could shape my view of the heavenly Father. You are missed, Dad.