What is a Father? That question, while it may be simple, it is not easy, for a Father is many things to many different people. Fathers are so important, not only in our lives and the lives of others, but in the Bible as well. We see references to many different Fathers and their influence not only on their children, but others around them. This is important because Fathers need to model for their sons and daughters how they should act, do, help, and care for others. Fathers set the example for what one should do in many different ways.
Considering some of the more influential Fathers we learn about in the Bible, we first must start with Adam, the very first Earthly Father. He had no example to follow, except God’s. Unfortunately, Adam disobeyed God’s laws and had to deal with the consequences when banished from the Garden of Eden. He also had to deal with Cain’s murder of Abel. Far from perfect, you can’t talk about what it is to be a Father, without reference to Adam, for he was the first Father, aside from God.
Then, there is Noah, although he too was far from perfect, he was a righteous man and followed God’s laws in a time when it was not common to do so. Noah set the example for his children of how God wants us to live our lives.
Next, we have Abraham, considered to be the father of the Jewish nation. His is an example of ultimate patience and forgiveness in a Father, in this case God the Father. For, Abraham had periods of fear, impatience and even lied from time to time due to his loss of faith and yet God still held true to his promise, that Abraham would be the Father of a nation and ultimately, he and Sarah had their son Isaac.
Isaac, Abraham’s son, learned the important lesson of following God’s commands from his own Father. For this reason, Isaac became one of the most favored Fathers in the bible. However, he was not perfect either. He favored his son Esau over Jacob. A Father needs to love all his children equally, how he shows that love may differ from child to child, but just as we are all equal in God’s eyes, so are our own Children. Still, Isaac shows us the example of Faith in God, although his wife was barren, he stood by her, stayed faithful to her in a time when polygamy was common and through his prayers God blessed him and his wife Rebekah with their twin sons.
One cannot speak of Fathers without considering what a great Father Noah was. Not only to his two sons Gershom and Eliezer, but to the whole Hebrew nation throughout their 40-year journey to the promised land. Noah teaches us that Fathers can accomplish amazing things that may seem impossible if they just remain close and faithful to God.
Next, I’d like us to consider Joseph, the man who adopted Jesus and raised him as his own, protecting him and Mary when he was just a baby, raising him as a young boy and teaching him his carpentry trade. Without the care and protection of Joseph, Jesus and Mary might not have survived. But, God knew the man Joseph was when he chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus.
Finally, we have God the Father himself! He is such a righteous, caring, forgiving Father, such that he sacrificed his own Son so that we can have everlasting life through our Faith in him and Jesus. God has taught us how to live in his image through the example his son set forth for all of us. He is always with us, always nudging us, always encouraging us to remain faithful and to follow him.
So, take heart, if you are a Father and you make mistakes along the way, do not be ashamed. Learn from them for you are amongst great company. God does not expect us to be perfect, far from us. He expects us to be faithful, to ask forgiveness, to learn from our mistakes and to love not just our own children, but all of God’s Children.
So, as I come back to my question, What is a Father? With the examples set forth in the Bible we know that a Father may be many things, today a Father may be a Mechanic helping you fix your car, a Teacher or Mentor helping with your homework or teaching a trade, a Driving instructor fearful yet patient as he teaches you how to drive, the Grill Master serving up a delicious steak, his son’s or daughter’s biggest fan sitting in the stands, a provider putting food on the table and offering shelter for his family, a protector always willing to sacrifice his own time, or even his life for the protection of his family. A Father is a great many things.
Fathers are nurturing, they are kind, they are enforcers, they are forgiving. Fathers are faithful, they are supportive, they are not perfect, but always trying to do the best they can.
So, on this Father’s Day, consider your Father or Father figure and what kind of Father he is. Be thankful for everything he did for you. For his faults, forgive him, for he has done his best, the best he knows how. Remember he had a Father too, and he learned from his Father. Everyone makes mistakes, and if God can forgive all of us for ours, we can forgive our Fathers. If God can love us unconditionally even with our faults and flaws, so can we for our Fathers. So, love your Father and be thankful for him. Without him, you would not be the person you are today.