2009-06-19 - Fathers
John 15:13 - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Of course Jesus was referring to his own life that he gave upon the cross for us when he made this statement but this verse speaks of any who willingly give up their own life for others. This verse is often used on occasions like Memorial Day to honor those who have in courageously given their life up for their country or at funerals of people who have selflessly given their own lives to save the lives of others in a tragic event. But what about those who do not give their lives up in one single act of courage but instead give up their lives daily for others? Who makes the greater sacrifice - the soldier that dies for his country or the father who lays aside his own dreams and aspirations to raise the soldier? Recorded elsewhere in the gospels Jesus repeatedly talks of daily taking up the cross, daily denying self for others. (Luke 9:23 - And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Also see Matthew 10:38, Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Mark 10:21)
What about the dads who day after day go to work rather than the golf course? What about the dads who give up time with their children they love to put food on the table? What about the dad who sits in the floor with his children playing Chutes and Ladders for three hours rather than working on his pet project down in the basement? Fathers make sacrifices everyday that often go overlooked.
My own father worked at a job he didn't usually like so three ungrateful boys could have better opportunities than he had. My dad could have probably done a lot of things faster in the woodshop and in the garage if he hadn't had so much help but his sacrifice of time taught us important values and skills we can still use today. And we thanked him by rolling our eyes at him when he asked us to do something and by trying to get the last word in on any subject.
One man's daughter recognized the sacrifice of her father while listening to a Mother's day sermon in 1909. She had been raised by her father as her mother had died at an early age giving birth to a younger sibling. Mr. Smart had given of himself selflessly raising all six children and no day yet recognized his efforts so grown and married Ms. Dodd set about establishing a day to honor Father's with the first Father's day being observed in Spokane Washington on June 19, 1910. This testament to a father's sacrifice eventually became a national holiday. How sad that it is that many fathers aren't more sacrificial. Tonight, 4 out 10 children will be tucked in bed at a home without their biological father. These children are five times more likely to live in poverty, repeat a grade, and have emotional problems than those with a father in their lives.
The statistics prove time and time again that sacrificial fathers make a difference. I once read that a dad is a man who has pictures where money once was .That summed it up for me. Any male can be a father but it takes a sacrificial heart to be a dad. Abba, our heavenly father showed his love through the sacrificial offering of His one and only son. What an example we have to follow - men rise up to the challenge and be the fathers your children need. Be the husbands your wife needs. Be the followers Christ challenges us to be.
If your father has sacrificially given of himself, tell him thanks today and appreciate his efforts year round.
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted