Many people have had tremendous influence upon my life, but one of the greatest has to be my dad. He has instructed me throughout my life to have a good work ethic and care for my neighbors. He encouraged me to be a good, loving husband of one wife and to raise children to honor their parents and to respect their elders. When it comes down to it, my practical knowledge of life comes from the days of hauling limbs from the backyard to a burn pile or hammering a thousand nails into the wooden deck. I have been blessed by God to have a father that was never missing, but who was active in his duty in raising his children correctly. While I am thankful for these things in my life, our communities and world continue to face a sad situation. The prevailing opinion within our culture is that the father is no longer needed and the consequence is that true fatherhood is all but missing.
We have within this generation in America an absence of fathers in the homes. It seems the growing average of babies being born have vacated fathers, who will never influence or have any contact with their children. It is within this fatherless society that we are witnessing crime and drug abuse escalate. The statistics concerning a fatherless home are staggering. The rate of teenage suicide is five times greater in a fatherless home. Studies show that 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. The impact of a fatherless home goes beyond just these two particulars, but statistics show that 80% of rapists with anger problems originate from a fatherless home. Children coming from a fatherless home are twice as likely to drop out of school and ten times more likely to experiment and become addicted to drugs. Fatherhood is no longer seen as essential, but rather is disparaged on television and absolutely discouraged by society, but these statistics argue for the critical necessity for fathers to be at home again.
Within this fragile society, we must take to these fatherless individuals a Father that will not leave them, but who will care for them every day. We must take to the broken-hearted a Father that will not lie to them or cheat them out of their time. They need to know a Father that cherishes them and has done everything necessary to bring about their greatest success. We must introduce to this fatherless world our heavenly Father.
We do not serve a God and Father that is absent or not involved. The deists, of the past, viewed God as being the Creator of the world, but then allowing everything to continue without His control. They believed in a powerful God to create, but an absent Father to sustain. The God we find in Scripture is completely the opposite. Our Father, "who art in heaven," loves His creation and has given us the scheme of redemption, by which we are saved. In John’s first epistle, God is described as love. John defines His love by His action: “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9). From the beginning, our Father is active in our lives and has already taken the steps needed to ensure our safety. Thousands of children go through life worrying about their next meal, or where they will sleep the following night. Our Father has promised that all things necessary will be given, if we faithfully seek His will and are obedient to Him (Matthew 6:33). The love of God is too great for man to ever fathom the entire width or height, but it is a love that He freely bestows upon every person. Our objective in life must be to show those that are hurting the love of God and the avenue to receive His richest blessings.
Another great promise concerning our Father in heaven is that His love is constant. God is not a father who only shows up on the weekends, or every other day, but He cares about our activities and struggles each day. Peter captured this wonderful characteristic of God in his first epistle when he told his readers to cast all their anxiety upon God, because He cares for us (5:7). The dads of this world are battling against financial woes, insecurities, and their own struggles and so they do not care to have any more problems thrust upon them. This is the sad condition within of so many homes, but with God the opposite is always true. No matter the problem, big or small, we are told to cast all our anxiety upon Him. Not only is God able to take care of His children, but He is also able to lift our burdens. We do not cry out to an unresponsive ear, but one that hears His children and responds to their call, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6). These thoughts of God in heaven give comfort and strength to those who are weak, and guidance and light to those who are lost.
The final aspect of our Father to be examined is His proximity to our lives. We read in Isaiah of a God that is truly able to handle the entire universe in the span of His hand (Isaiah 40:12). Even in His greatness we find comfort in the knowledge that God has named all the stars and calls each one by their name (Isaiah 40:26; Psalm 147:4). The very thought of God being able to remember every one of the billions of stars, gives comfort to one of six billion people living upon this earth. “My God is so big, and He is so mighty, there’s nothing that my God cannot do.” We have all sung this song as children, but have we forgotten its message? It is so easy to forget about God, because we do not see Him physically, but He is near to each one of us. As Paul was preaching to the Athenians on Mars Hill he spoke of God in this way: “that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). Once again, in a world that is "full" of absent fathers we are promised by God that He is never far from any one of us. All we must do is simply seek for Him.
May each of us that has been blessed with a good earthly father be thankful for his kind care and love. Even now as I reflect upon the actions of my father, I can see through his example my heavenly Father being represented. I pray that my own sons will be able to one day see their Father in heaven by my own actions and love shown toward them. Our world is in desperate need of fathers, and the greatest example is the One in heaven. Let us rise to the challenge to become the dads that our sons and daughters need and the husbands our wives deserve.