Our daughter texted to ask what I wanted for Father’s Day. I replied, “A conversation with my beloved daughter.”
“Your conversation wish will be granted,” she answered, “but what ELSE do you want?”
I sent her a few items pending on my Amazon wish list. However, my greatest wish as a father is to be assured beyond reasonable doubt that she and her brother follow and love the Lord Jesus Christ.
Of course they already know that wish. Years ago when they were in late high school or early college, I sat them down together and asked if they knew that my relationship with Jesus was what in life I cherish most. They readily affirmed that I’d gotten that across to them along with my second-most important life priority - that both of them also follow and love the Lord.
They are grown now and doing very well by societal standards - liked and respected, healthy, career success and earnings, living independently, close with friends and family, regularly engaged with us... One is married, new house, etc. and the other still single, career-focused and enjoying the “good life.”
Our passion for their spiritual well-being was behind my wife and I moving to a new church over 20 years ago - to surround them with the Jesus-loving people attending there. They both made faith commitments there and we are grateful to our church family for lovingly tending the faith seeds that we as parents planted in them.
I credit the strong faith I now enjoy to seeds planted in me by my parents that were tended by the churches of my youth. Even so, those seeds didn’t fully germinate in me until I was nearly 30 - the age milestone both our children are nearing now. That’s when I finally accepted Jesus’ invitation to truly become one of his own - Definitely the highpoint of my life.
Anyone who's ever done planting knows that the space between sowing and reaping is crowded with significant challenge. Jesus-loving parents need all the help we can get. Success-seekers in our world level can easily surround themselves with ready encouragement, supportive friends and family, and resources that faith seekers often lack.
The Christian faith that influenced and guided the founding of our American republic 200 plus years ago is now openly shunned. America has polluted its once faith-nurturing soil. As Jesus illustrated in his parable of the sower in Matthew 13, poor soil weakens faith.
While I try as a father to live the kind of life that would draw my children to the Lord, I often wonder what they see in me along that line. Does my trust in the Lord come through as I now struggle to earn a living while they both thrive with career success? How badly do my shortcomings and sinfulness tarnish my faith witness?
Thankfully, whatever faith influence I have with my children, positively or negatively, ONLY Jesus saves! Into our messiness, he fearlessly arrives.
I believe God pursues and attempts to draw every human being who ever lived to himself. At whatever level we experience him, we all have an opportunity to receive or reject him. Some of us have more opportunities than others to choose.
He is a just and most gracious God to allow us to make and live with our choices, only coming to our rescue if we call out to him. Sounds good on the surface but, truthfully, to grant us such free will is a frightening matter.
You see, even if we manage to commit to following the Lord, life’s messiness resumes. Although God’s Spirit empowers us to live our faith, following Jesus does not assure a life of ease, well-being or prosperity, although God may permit us some or much of all the above.
Noted Sam Williamson in his superb book, “Hearing God in Conversation,”
In recent years, has our children’s front row seat to the affliction of our comfort negatively or positively impacted their own faith? I don’t know. I don’t have those answers but even if I did, my prayer is not that they look to me but to God himself for everything.
Solomon’s prosperity ruined him and Job’s prosperity was lost in a wager that he had no part in. Ultimately Job decided that the many challenges and questions he directed to God during the worst of his struggles could be left unanswered when God himself showed up. For Job, God was enough.
So, my dear, beloved children, my Father’s Day wish is that you will become convinced more and more as your lives unfold that not only is God enough for you, he is all you need. Meanwhile, I will love you to the extent of my mortal powers and, God willing, we will also spend eternity together as well.
Image by Forrest Cavale via Unsplash: