The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox.
“For I have known him, in order that he may command his children…that they keep the way of the Lord…” (Genesis 18:19)
I can relate to the Father’s Day card that reads, “Dad, everything I ever learned I learned from you, except one thing. The family car really will do 110.” It’s a tough job being a father. Sometimes fathers get beat up on from all sides. Even at church. One little boy said to the preacher after the service, “Boy, that was a good sermon. My dad slumped way down today.”
The truth is, there are no perfect fathers. The example of fatherhood that Jesus holds up is the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15, but even his home had struggles. So, what’s a father to do? I believe a good place to start is with God’s instructions to fathers in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Here’s a summary of how we apply it in our family.
First, we talk about Him when we sit in our house. We have family devotions every weekday morning, with God’s help. It begins with Scripture and ends with us taking turns praying. We also try to eat most evening meals together (except on Friday night, when Cindy and I have our weekly date). During the family meals, I might ask the kids to tell me what they learned that day. Sometimes we will discuss the news of the day from a biblical perspective. I want my children to be like the “sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times…”(1 Chronicles 12:32).
We also talk about Him as we walk along the way. As we drive with our children in the car, we might use that time to ask them questions about what they believe, where they are in their faith, what their struggles and questions are. They are, after all, our most important disciples! I have had some of the most honest conversations with my children while riding alone with one of them and they feel free to let me into their lives.
We talk about Him as we lie down. One of our favorite things to do as a family is to read together before bed. We gather in the family room, each of us in a favorite chair or stretched out on the floor, and enter a different world together through books. We have been to the magical land of Narnia, into the slough of despair with Christian, onto the battlefields of Europe with Sergeant Alvin York, deep in the snowdrifts with the Ingalls, and plunged in the icy depths with the men and women of the Titanic. Our children learn from these books that suffering is part of God’s plan, that Christ bids a man to come and die, and that nothing compares to His unspeakable joy. It’s been said that we will all be the same five years from now except for the books we read and the people we meet. Our desire is that our children see Christ at work in the lives of great men and women of God and know that they are called to run the same race with endurance.
We talk about Him when we rise up. My oldest rises early now because he wants to, not because he has to. He looks forward to that time he spends with God before family devotions. My goal as a father is to raise seven adults who will love the Lord from their hearts, of whom it can be said, “The love of Christ compels them.”
May God give each of you fathers great joy and wisdom as you pursue the high calling of fatherhood. It will be worth all the effort.
Prayer: “Lord, give me wisdom to know what my children need, humility to bend myself to that task, and laughter in the enjoyment of these you have entrusted to my care for a few years.”
Action: Choose a good book and begin to read it aloud to your family in the evenings before bedtime.