Father's Day. I see the words, hear the words, digest the words, and the day is not for me. I mean, it should be and I must admit that it really is. I am, after all, a father. And a father of eight to boot! So, there it is. I really am a dad, so it's true: I qualify. I know, however, that come Sunday the 17th, I still won't be feelin' it. "Why?" you ask? For two reasons: 1) When I hear "Father," I think of our Heavenly Father; and 2) For almost 46 years (up through late June of 2011), the celebration here on earth was about celebrating my dad. And to be honest, I think there is a third reason as well. Whenever I do consider myself, this is not for me to get, but for me to give...give thanks that I even get to be a dad! Father's day is really a taking-inventory-day to praise God! I get to raise my children with my beautiful wife and we get to be a part of the amazing lives of these kids. Father's Day is about others. On this day, I get to give thanks for these amazing others.
I think the sequence above is the right one: celebrate the Heavenly Father, rejoice over YOUR dad, and praise God for the ones that make you a dad: your wife and your children. This is easily a day about others!
Yes, it is indeed, first-of-all, the day of and for our Heaven Father! No, this isn't trying to be hyper-holy. Someone might object, "No offense to the LORD, but isn't every day already about Him?! Come on loosen up!" But it's all true! The Scriptures say, "In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)." And -- on top of that -- as you well know, we pray to our Heavenly Father every day! We pray, "Our Father who art in heaven." What does this mean? Luther taught: "With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father." What glorious words! The Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth is our true Father and we are His true children...His dear children. This is how we get to approach the throne of grace. This is the confidence we may have before God...true and dear children get to ask with boldness, with confidence, and with power...because they know beyond all doubt that they are loved by their Father. We know this to be true because our true Father gave up His Son Jesus to save us! He loves us more than we can say, He loves us more than we can imagine! How can we not think of our Heavenly Father on Father's Day? It is His day and for us who belong to Jesus, this makes us glad!
Secondly, I feel as though I will never be able to see it as my day...it was always my dad's day. And this made me happy. When I was a little boy, I did something very stupid. I was playing "cowboy" and, in my imagination, I was out in the hot desert. I found a stream and from that stream I drank some water just like Gideon's chosen warriors. The only problem with my make-believe was that the stream was the water running along the curb in the front yard. That water made me terribly ill. The doctor called it scarlet fever. But this wasn't the important part. What I remember was that in the middle of the night I was being carried by my father. He got the town doctor to meet us at his office on main street of our little town. I can still feel myself in my dad's strong arms, carrying me into the doctor's office. It was serious. I almost died. But I was safe. I didn't have a care in the world. My dad was there. This is the reason Father's Day was always about him. On another occasion we were hiking in the mountains. The trail narrowed and, sure enough, I tripped while on that trail and went tumbling down the side of the mountain. My dad leaped down the steep grade and somehow got in front of me as I fell uncontrollably. Again, he saved my life. Of course, I was safe. I was with my dad. For over four decades, the day was always about him.
Finally, when I have been more-or-less forced to make it somewhat about me, I've had little trouble making it more about others still. I would have never become a father apart from my wife, the amazing mother of my children. Even when it's Father's Day, it's Mother's Day (again!). And that's more than fine. They all like her better anyway! But she's good about putting the spotlight back on me. When the light comes, however, it is only there by-virtue of these children that make me a dad! These eight...they are so different, every one of them. But what would my life be without them?! The ones that are easier, give me extra joy; the ones that are harder, bless me with stronger faith...all of them, teach me how to live in love...all of them love me! Unbelievable! And yet it's true! They are truly gifts from the LORD!
Father's Day...whose day is it really? It is truly MY day...it is my day as a father to give thanks and praise to our Heavenly Father; it is my day to remember my amazing father (who I miss so much); and it is my day to give thanks for my wife and my kids...it's a great day...it's all about them...and that makes it a great day for me!
Soli Deo Gloria!