Right versus Privilege
Being a father is a privilege and with privilege comes great responsibility. Our Heavenly Father knows all about this and He has instituted this sacred responsibility to men. If ever a father needed a role-model, he just needs to flip through the pages of the Bible to discover the immense love, patience and the very heart of God; the Father of all. Having made men fathers, God has never abandoned them; He continually seeks to nurture all men who are fathers, to provide for their family in their own special way. He seeks because He grants us the right to choose, never forcing anything down the throats of His people. This very evident throughout the ages where His emissaries speak His will, warnings, covenants, law and blessings. God can never have His people programmed like mindless androids and run algorithms and programming scripts to fulfill what God had intended from the very birth of everything. All He asks is for us to wholeheartedly obey His instructions for the betterment of our lives, no matter how obscure it may seem that we prosper and in turn prosper those around us. Every individual's progress in accordance to God's blueprint is measured by the achievements and blessings manifested in their lives. Man must never entrap themselves by equating these with fiscal success and subsequently compare. Health, peace and joy are some of the intangibles that cannot be procured.
Position of Sanctity
Fathers hold a sacred and special position in a family in the eyes of God. Genesis 3:6-7 says, "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings".
When Eve ate the fruit, nothing happened until Adam did. They became aware and as the bible states, their eyes were opened! Not that they were groping about Eden in hopeless blindness but Adam's violation of the only law given to him caused the decline of mankind's special position with God. This serves as the first indication of the Spiritual authority God has ordained in men. God never tempted, mislead nor tricked them. Follow one law, the only law, and be masters of the Earth. Do fathers seek God's will in their dealings on a daily basis? Or do we scan our memories for that special childhood prayer we once said to conjure the speedy response from God in those desperate and hopeless times? Our Heavenly Father has equipped us with the highest possible wisdom as illustrated in Genesis 1: 26-27 but He can only let us decide for ourselves based on that wisdom. Similarly God has put fathers in an esteemed position of holiness to decide for those in his charge what's best. A spiritual position in a family ordained by God is not to be taken lightly! A father is considered a priest of his household to God and a leader who takes up the responsibility over the daily operations of a family. Priestly according to the Levitical order – those select few who sanctified themselves for worship to God. A role not to be outsourced, delegated or relinquished.
Through Father to God
God is concerned how the father operates in a household because when you learn to obey your earthly father, you learn to obey your heavenly Father. If you do not recognize your father's authority, how can you recognize God's? Wives and children are to recognize the authority of a husband and father if they are to recognize God. Our Heavenly Father has, over the course of history, ensured widows and the fatherless were protected and cared for. Relatives and other social figures that are able, must provide and shelter the unfortunate ones without a father or husband.
What a father does, the child will follow to a very large extent. Coming to the end of the first day of school, my son was bored and to amuse himself, he took out his pencil and started playing with it. I was watching him very curiously. Then my heart started pounding when I saw the way he played with his pencil. It was exactly how I played with my pencil at precisely the same time of the school period and that was just before the final bell rang. I could not imagine how this could reoccur 33 year later! In biblical terms, Isaac told King Abimelech that Rebecca was his sister. Abraham did the same. David had more than one wife, Solomon broke the record. This generational discrepancy is what God wants to put right through fathers so that he may impart Godly qualities to his children through his conduct. We had a new regional boss recently who had previously worked in the U.S. During one of the small talk sessions, he said that in some parts of the U.S., children grew up without knowing their fathers or any other male figure because a large number of the fathers were imprisoned. People had or knew someone who were either in prison or were once locked away. Consequently the children resort to a life of crime and they end up incarcerated like their fathers. A horrible testament and a vicious cycle!
The first 4 of the 10 commandments, God establishes Himself, His sovereign authority, His Holiness and rules of worship. Next comes our duty as children in the 5th commandment, "Honour your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you". This is the only commandment that comes with a promise. When one of His disciples asked Jesus how to pray, Jesus began with: "Our Father in heaven…". Clearly even Jesus understood the authority and the absolute need for obedience to our Heavenly Father. Jesus lived His life as an example and honouring God was second nature to Him, a definitive proof of the importance of fathers.
Fathers to Children
From a father come children as God said in Proverbs 23:22, "Listen to your father who begot you (gave you life), And do not despise your mother when she is old". If fathers are sacred and special to God then children are extremely precious. So precious were children to God that He sent Elijah to stay with a widow and her son because they were planning to die after having their last meal. The lack of an able husband and father would have prevented this so God intervened to preserve two lives. God spared Nineveh because the king and his people repented. Even the animals were clothed with sack cloth as a sign of mourning. Seeing this God was moved to mercy but Jonah was angry. But God used the example in Jonah 4:11 to move this prophet with compassion. "And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?" In some bible versions, it states children. Because of the Ninevites' repentance, God aborted destruction but Jonah was not amused because of the hard journey he took to preach the word of God. In justifying His love for innocent young lives, God spoke to His prophet to induce pity upon them. Apparently that stoked the flames of compassion in Jonah.
What's Different Today?
Practically nothing. Blood is still red, the sun is still hot, water quenches thirst and God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The father's role has never diminished though it has gotten slightly complex but in an ever changing world, always refer to the infinite wisdom God has imparted from the dawn of the world. Men and fathers are so bogged down with the trappings of the secular world that they have become slothful in their duties at home. No one can replace the presence and role of a father in the family and if you examine a little longer, you will discover the distractions, unnecessary activities and pursuits that are robbing, yes literally robbing, their time with their family. Wives and mothers are now taking up the mantle thrown by the wayside by men but as much as the maternal instincts comes to the fore, God's rule are not to be bent. Balance between work and family is no longer in harmony and family decisions are done without consulting fathers. Either they are too tired, occupied, detached or just lazy of another responsibility. All the essential ingredients for a destructive life of children and families. These are spoken out of personal experiences.
My son and I were parted when my ex-wife and I separated that resulted in a divorce. It was not an easy decision and a lot of prayer and seeking God's will was constant. However, God assured me to grant her wishes for the sake of my son and at that time, I could not understand it. Ben was barely four. In that space of a few years, she kept moving from one location to another and it was hard to keep up and it is said that my son celebrated his birthday each year in a new house. Finally she packed his bags and sent him about 300 kilometers away north to her parents' house. Now I had to apply vacation leave to visit my son. All the while I remembered God's promise.
There were many advice and suggestions from many quarters to get closer to my son including finding work in that location where my son was. Some even suggested I bring him back and let God show the way. Not one of these gave me peace and so I just let God do His thing while I waited.
When Ben was eight and the health of her parents failed, she decided to bring him back. Not only that, the house they lived was a mere six minutes away! Ever since then, I volunteered to send my son to school even if it meant I had to sacrifice my rest and sleep. Today, I get up before six in the morning to make sure I am on time to pick my son up from his home to school. I get to pray with him every day in the car and I spend quality spiritual time with him. We have conversations and I try to answer his questions and I can only thank God for what He has done. We get to spend alternate weekends together and that's an added bonus from the legality of the divorce. Recently, I have been asked to take Ben with me to church every Sunday to "put him in a routine". But we all know who's in charge of this arrangement. This is a personal testimony on the importance of fathers in the lives of children and how God ensure I had access to my son despite the circumstances.
God is our Heavenly Father who is a living example of what a father should be and He will ensure His people live in a life according to His will. This will also mean moving things about or causing changes in environments to achieve His goal. God is good and though we cannot fully understand Him, He understands us to the core. His concern over the family unit and the governing roles of a father is very evidently demonstrated in my life. Never underestimate what God can do nor the capacity He has put in everyone of us to succeed. Praise God for His faithfulness and for being a promise-keeper!