The culture has told us a lie. It tells us families can be any make or variety when it comes to parenting. It tells us that children aren’t affected and, in some cases, better off without the “archaic” model of having a father and mother traditional-type family.
However, God’s Word gives us a picture of how families ought to be structured. In Leviticus 19:3, the Lord said, “Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father…” and in Deuteronomy 5:16 in the Ten Commandments, God says, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
It is unsurprising, then, that there is a conflict between the world and God’s original design. As evidence of this, we are witnesses of the culture’s influence by how many families consist of absent fathers. Whether it’s children being born out of wedlock, fathers torn from their children due to divorce, dads’ priorities consumed by their careers, or any other number of reasons, young boys and girls are missing a very important spiritual, psychological, emotional, and physical connection to their fathers.
I was one of those young boys.
I grew up in a home with a father in my early years. I didn’t have very much interaction with him because he was usually busy with work, hobbies, or other activities. When I was twelve, my parents got a divorce and my mom maintained custody of my older brother and me.
After the divorce, I saw even less of my father. Not all of it was his fault as I spent much of my time with my friends. But it was a combination of these factors and more that robbed me of a much-needed connection with my father and any influence he could have had in my life.
I became a very undisciplined and unruly child. My behavior was spiraling out-of-control as I started from lying and deceiving to stealing and committing arson. It was also this type of behavior that forced my dad’s hand after he remarried. In several instances, his new family would notice money missing from their home. After setting a trap and discovering that I was the culprit, I was forbidden in their home from that point forward.
This caused a great deal of anger in my heart toward my father. In my mind, he had chosen his new family over me. It wasn’t until I was sixteen that my father and I reconciled. My oldest sister had devised a plan to get me to meet our dad at the same food stand at the local town’s carnival. We talked and eventually went back to his home and had a very nice conversation. I left that night reconciled to my father.
Two months later, my father had a heart attack and died.
Thirty-two years later, I am now at the same age my father was when he died. It’s true that fathers have a profound influence on their children. Good and bad. I followed a lot of the same bad decisions he made as I went through life. I struggled through three marriages and divorces. The same as my dad.
When it comes to relationships, it is one of my greatest struggles. Fortunately, there is a Father in heaven that breaks through all the bad stuff I learned from my earthly father. When I came to Christ, I was carrying a lot of baggage. I’m still working through some of the issues and behaviors I either learned from my dad or acquired because of his absence but God is doing a work in my heart.
I am fortunate that I reconciled with my earthly father prior to him passing away. But I’m even more fortunate, by God’s grace and mercy, that my heavenly father pursued me and reconciled me to Himself some 17 years ago. I have learned how to forgive my dad and I have come to appreciate and be thankful for the forgiveness I’ve received from my Heavenly Father.
Reconciliation and forgiveness is a gift. I didn’t get to learn many important things because my dad’s life was cut short. But I learned about reconciliation and forgiveness from both my earthly father and Heavenly Father and that’s a lesson I will carry with me for the rest of my life.