Father's Day! It doesn't matter if the kids are at home or have flown the coop, this is the day dads and grandpas play king of the hill, take a break, do nothing, take a nap, get some gifts and have a fantastic meal prepared for them. A first grader wrote: "My dad is the best dad ever. I would kiss a pig for him." On Father's Day, I hope you skipped the pig kissing. However every day is a day to applaud those fathers who walk in the footsteps of their Father-God and more importantly, we applaud a loving, Father-God who compassionately comes to us because "we are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matt. 9:36).
Unfortunately, we have some underwhelming dads who have no positive force in their child's life. They pour their blood sweat and tears into work, ambition, career and personal pleasures, but give less than four minutes per day to their children. No wonder a fourth-grader writes: "Sometimes I put my stinky socks into dad's briefcase, so that at work he might think of me!"
In contrast to underwhelming dads are overbearing dads who believe that their children need a critic not a relationship and a ruler not a caregiver. Over-bearing parents follow the rule that says: "It is our job to set limits and provide discipline because we have only 15 years to tame the barbarians."
Children need fathers who model themselves not after an underwhelming dad who is never around, nor after an overbearing father who nags, yells and punishes. What children need are fathers who model themselves after our under-bearing Father-God who gracefully promises that in our weakness He will "lift us up as if on wings of eagles" (Is. 40:31), "who is our refuge and strength" (Ps. 46:1) and who will "lead us in the paths of righteousness" (Ps. 23:3).
The apostle Paul reminds us that our under-bearing Father-God "Proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us" (Roms. 5:8).
Nick once gave me a Father's Day card: "Dad, everything I know I learned from you, except for one thing that I learned on my own. I learned that the old beat up Capri could do 110 mph! Happy Father's Day!" Like and under-bearing God, I had to learn not to be overbearing or underwhelming but patient in love and that kind of love doesn't come naturally. On Sunday, I hope you also praised God by saying: "Happy Father's Day, God!" And now today, let fathers and mothers both resurrect God the Father into their lives so that they might model themselves after Him. May we, like our under-bearing Father, walk behind, beside and ahead of our children and our friends as we, like our Father-God, offer them our support, encouragement and our "present help in every trouble" (Ps. 46:1).
Roger Lemke is pastor of Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, 10360 Stringfellow Road. Call 283-1170.