One of my favorite sounds of the summer (or just about any time of the year here in Arizona) is the distant hum of a lawn mower. The rumbling of the engine as it cuts rows into the grass makes me feel comforted and secure. Instantly I am taken back to my childhood when I heard the same sound in our own yard. 

That choppy, little engine meant my daddy was home. 

I didn’t hear our lawn mower as much as I would have liked, though.  It sat in the workshop much too often, while my dad was out in the world doing other things. 

His absence left an emptiness in my heart, and without a positive, strong father as a role model, I grew up feeling insecure and lost.  I went on to spend my late teens and early 20’s searching for something to fill the void.

There was a T.V. show that ran from the mid- to late 2000’s that illustrates this feeling well. It was a little show called Lost, presumably titled because it’s about a group of people whose plane crashes somewhere over the Pacific Ocean and they become lost on an uncharted island. 

But I think they were all lost long before they became castaways and found themselves battling their inner demons come to life. 

The series portrays a group of people who, for one reason or another, has each endured painful and damaging relationships with their fathers.  As each character’s past unfolds, we get a better understanding of how the pain of those broken relationships has left them confused, lonely, searching for the love of a father and at the same time running from their pain. 

Lost.   

We witness their journeys from inside their pain as they try to fill their own voids, and their struggle toward healing, or not. 

Unfortunately, these kinds of painful struggles aren’t limited to TV shows. Real life is full of them.  The news is full of stories of people who have been flung into the world without the solid foundation of an involved, loving father.   

Why? We’ve come to believe a lie that’s been perpetrated on us for a long time, and the lie has gained momentum.  The enemy of God and of love and truth has lied to us, telling us children don’t need a father, and the world has swallowed the lie. Now we’re paying the price.

The truth is God created marriage.

God created marriage as a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church.  Husbands were created to be an ongoing personification of Christ’s sacrificial love for her. 

God has given both men and women important roles.  They were both created in God’s image, but in case you haven’t noticed, they were created differently.  In God’s wisdom, He’s given each of them separate, distinct characteristics that, when brought together in a marriage, form a more complete picture of the image of God. Opposites attract as a way of bringing two sets of strengths together to a marriage and a family.      

The truth is God created families. 

Moms and dads each bring their unique God-given characteristics and abilities to the raising of their kids.   Too often, though, dads have been pushed out, left, or have never been involved at all.  Whatever the case may be, unless we get back to God’s vision for the family, we will continue to see the eroding of society. 

So what are husbands and fathers to do?

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19

It starts with the marriage.  Fathers are the first man in a young woman’s life. The example he sets by how he treats his wife is the portrait she internalizes in how she should be treated by a man.  Fathers are the example young men look to in how to treat a woman. 

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4

God’s discipline is always given with grace and wisdom.  Disciplining too harshly causes children to become bitter.  God says it’s to be done in a loving, nurturing, teachable way.  Not disciplining at all can also cause bitterness and a disrespect for authority.

Fathers are the first impression children form as to who God is, and that impression can last a lifetime. 

Dads, you are needed.  You are important to your children’s lives, and to the prosperity of your family, community, and our society.  The ripple effect of a dad’s relationship with his children can either be an earthquake or a peaceful wave landing on the shore.  I pray you will seek the Lord and let Him show you how to parent your children, that you will be active in their lives, conveying to them how much they’re loved and how important they are to you.  They will carry that into their adulthood.

If your children are alive, it’s not too late to be the father God desires you to be.  Ask Him for wisdom.  Sometimes the most teachable moments and best times of building a relationship are just hanging out together.  Throw a ball.  Make a fort.  Mow the lawn.  Just let them know you’re there for them. 

And if your children are grown, it’s not too late to pray for reconciliation. 

I was able to connect with my dad when I was in my 30’s, just a few years before his death. We didn’t have a lot of time, but the time we had was sweet. The truth is he had his own father issues and searched his entire life for a way to fill his own void of loneliness. I understand that now.  Because of God’s faithfulness, someday we’ll be together again and our relationship will be complete. 

No matter the situation, know that in Christ there is forgiveness and love. 

Sons and daughters, forgive your dad.  It’s the best gift you can give yourself, and your children.  The sad truth is that if he was harsh or absent he probably had his own pain he was grappling with, and unfortunately that pain taints all our relationships. Pray for him. Love him with the love God gives you.

Know that the image we have of our fathers is not an accurate representation of God.  The best of dads (and moms) are not perfect.  Don’t assign your dad’s weaknesses to your Heavenly Father. 

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me. Psalm 27:10

I’ve relied on this verse throughout my walk with God.  No matter how lost you may have felt before God, in Christ you are now found.  Christ died for you, rose for you, and sought you.  He wooed you until you were His.  He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love and provision are limitless.  His grace and mercy abound to you.  He is faithful.

God bless you on your journey,

 

 

 

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