DEVOTION – FATHER’S DAY
How difficult is it to get a national holiday started? If one were to look at the history behind Father’s Day, the conclusion would be—quite difficult.
It seems as far back as the Middle Ages, Catholic Europe held a Father’s Day of sorts on the Feast of St. Joseph. However, the practice just didn’t seem to catch on. Several cities in the U.S. attempted to get something going with parades and speeches in the early 1900’s, but still—nothing doing. Most attempts to get a Father’s Day going were seen as collusion between the promoters and manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes and other traditional father-type gifts. Congress rejected no fewer than three bills attempting to establish the holiday, even with the backing of several presidents. Finally, dads got their day when Richard Nixon made the holiday permanent in 1972.
In the beginning, Father’s Day was received with cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. Not much has changed. Watch any TV program or movie and look at how the father is being portrayed. Fathers are often viewed as dimwitted knuckle draggers outsmarted by their wives and offspring. In most presentations, these narrow-minded men need their opinions changed, or at least need to be taught a lesson.
Take a look at your father (or yourself, if you are one). Take a hard look and you will see we really are a flawed bunch of creatures. Don’t get me wrong. You love and respect your father, and that is great. However, if your father is worth his salt, he will admit his own shortcomings. It is difficult for a man to put the needs of his family before his own as he ought to do. Every father can look back with regret on missed teaching moments, heavy-handed discipline (or a lack of discipline), and a host of other broken promises and failed attempts to be a great dad.
If we are willing to admit it, we are all “dead-beat dads.” Should there even be a day set aside to honor us? In a word, yes.
Christians know that in God, our heavenly Father, we have the ultimate example of what a loving father is to be. Yet, our Father isn’t content to be just an example. He put His love into action for us. Our Father devised His plan of salvation before time began. His Son took on our sins and shortcomings. Jesus’ blood wiped out the accusations against us and submerged our sins in the depths of the sea forever. We sometimes mishandle or pervert justice, but Jesus always judges fairly. We spend time away from our family, but Jesus never leaves the side of His loved ones. We selfishly put ourselves ahead of our family’s needs, but Jesus puts us first. For us He was willing to live a life of sorrow. For us He was willing to humble Himself unto death—even death on the cross.
And all of this work of Jesus is now credited to us! His righteousness covers our many failures! Oh, it is true we still have room for improvement and growth as fathers, but we no longer have to look back at the past with hand-wringing and guilt.
If you wish you were a better dad, then start today. Look to Christian fathers you respect for advice and counsel. If your children are raised, help guide the young fathers in your congregation. Take advantage of opportunities to study God’s Word with other fathers, and enjoy their fellowship at events such as the Man Up! retreat, held annually.. But, above all, look to our Father above for the guidance and help you need. It is in His Word that you will see the purpose and plans He has for you and your family.
David W. Bernthal is the principal of Luther Memorial School in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.