“He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior…You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth…Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. From the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:15, 18, 46, and 47
Many fathers have done well and many have not. Some have started well and faded in the good course. Some have begun badly and redeemed their calling by repenting the past. It is never too late to have it turned around. God’s indomitable grace is always able to overcome the consequences of bad parenting even though the path has been filled with heartbreak; it is the finish line that ultimately matters the most for a father and his children. It is better by far to start well and continue the race to the end, but this is not often the reality. No matter where you are on the life journey of a father, it is never too late to turn to the most important character trait of being a father: leading your children to the Rock!
The Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32) is a powerful passage for fathers. It points you to the One who is the model for every father and shows His character traits as He does what every father ought to emulate in loving his children, who are the apple of His eye; and in your case, the apple of your eye. For every father there is no more important part of being a father than this: leading your children by word and example to the Rock of their salvation! Your circumstances may be very difficult, your health may be poor, your time may be short, but if you are a father, whatever circumstances or time God grants you, your highest priority as a father is to somehow lead them to the Rock, the Savior.
This doesn’t begin when they are a teenager; it doesn’t even begin when they are five; it begins before conception by loving God foremost and loving their mother as yourself. If God your Father knew you in the womb (Psalm 139), you also must treasure this time in your child’s life. You guard your child by loving and caring for his mother through the prenatal period, praying with discipline for your development as a father and the development of your child; and practicing the traits of practical and spiritual fathering; how will you carry out this task: “commanding your children to obey carefully all the words of this law, which is your life.
Non-conversant infants are daily being nurtured in the incubator of the home, and the demeanor of this atmosphere communicates volumes long before your child can tell you about it. Augustine once said, “Give me a child until he is seven and he is mine for life. Whose will your child be by the time he or she is seven, fourteen, twenty-one? I hope he or she will be yours, because you are fully God’s, and because you obey His words, your child will also in emulating you; because you have gone repeatedly to the Rock yourself, and by example and word, you have led him or her there. Children want a father they can securely follow and children have a natural proclivity to follow a father whose life and character are worth following.
Unfortunately for them and for you this doesn’t always happen when the years of their young life are so powerfully impressionable. This Father’s Day be reminded of this truth: wherever you are in the life journey of being a father, which continues to the end of this life, it is never too late for you to go to the Rock, repent, turn from your past, and by example first and word second, lead your adult children, and grandchildren to the Rock. The failure of the past does not need to leave you in paralysis, continuing your status quo because you believe it’s too late. Jesus has not come and you have not died; use the time you have left to get yourself right with Him, and then by the example of your love and care, coupled with the observable change in you, with genuine apology, restore relationships with your children and pray earnestly for their salvation. Every child yearns for a loving, right relationship with their father even though many years of rough passage have gone by. The familial connection seldom loses its power, especially when the child, even as a parent them self, sees a transformation in their Daddy.
Never underestimate the power of grace to redeem the past, and bring genuine hope to the present.
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