The Dad’s Armor study opens with a look at the heritage we have in relationship with our earthly father. Men typically father as they were fathered or go the opposite direction working to ensure a better result. I am reminded of the cartoon of a son bringing home a report card with a failing grade. The young man presents it to his dad and says, “What do you think Dad – heredity or environment?”
It is too easy to judge earthly fathers through the lens of today and use them as scapegoats for our own fathering shortfalls. My father and your father did the best he could do with the cards he was dealt in life. The reality is that heredity and environment, by God’s design prepare each of us for life as a father. Then He introduces Himself through Jesus upon resurrection - Jesus, appearing to Mary said, “Do not hold onto Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’” – John 20:17. That was a life-changing verse for me because for the first time I realized I had a Heavenly Father that would fill gaps in the relationship with my earthly father.
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves again to fear; rather you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Jesus the Christ.” – Romans 8:15-17. In spite of growing up in church, serving as an altar boy and saying my prayers nightly, access to the heritage of the Heavenly Father through Jesus the Christ did not register with me until later in life. I was too busy being prideful as an overcomer dad having conquered a bad home situation by filling gaps in the relationship with my dad with a college education, some success in the world and provision for my family. As Oswald Chambers has said, “It is not sin that keeps us from our best but all the good stuff we do.” Good stuff in our strength does not compare with God stuff in His strength. By His grace, I started tuning in to the God stuff through the heritage of the Father.
Jesus reconnected what got disconnected in the Garden of Eden, relationship with the Father. Through knowing Jesus, we can get to know the Father as well. To know Jesus as He wants us to know Him requires reading and studying His book, the Bible. This journey through Scripture purged worldly efforts to fill relational gaps in my life and filled them with the love of the Father. That love opened the door for reconciliation with my dad and equipped me with timeless tips on the journey of becoming a faithful father – a dad that prioritizes physical presence, is engaged emotionally and leads spiritually by example. That is the dad we are all called to be, and that’s the dad the next generation needs.
Prayer guide: Lord, I thank You for the heritage You opened the door to through Jesus the Christ. For too long I was caught up in self, in the noise of this world and busy-ness of life to truly tune-in to You. Forgive me. Relationship gaps filled with worldly stuff became chasms. Replacing what was perceived as good stuff with God stuff has closed the gaps and opened the door to a new level of relationship with You, in marriage and family, in church and beyond. Help me and Faithful Fathering serve as Your instrument to raise the bar for fathering individually and corporately in churches, to encourage and equip a generation in the balance. Amen.
A faithful father tunes in to the heritage of the Heavenly Father.