Being a father comes with a lot of responsibility. I am expected to provide, protect, love, forgive, teach, correct, model, and all manner of such things. I mean, at least, I expect myself to do so, and my own father’s selfless love for me has set a pretty high bar. Add to that my heavenly Father’s example, and I have a near impossible task.
If you were to ask me if I’m a good father, I really don’t know what I would answer. I am well aware of my sins. I think I could pretty accurately predict the shortcomings my children might recall if you asked them in twenty years, when they have the perspective of time past and their own experience. There are already a litany of things I’d do differently, if I had the choice and power. Outside of my wife, my children know my sins like no one else. I pray they forgive them, now and for all their days.
So what am I after here? Is this just one big confession or testimonial? Certainly not. As I serve as a father, I am reminded of my Father’s love for me. What a gift He and my wife have given me! For all my faults, I can say that I’ve never not loved my children. In fact, I can say that I’ve always wanted for them better than I’ve wanted for myself. When there’s been a chance they’re sick, I’ve wanted their sickness instead. When it’s come down to their education or childhood experience or anything of that nature, there’s never been a question that I want for them the best I can give. Honestly, one of the toughest parts of being a father has been that I had a great childhood. I had good parents, I lived on the tail end of a time when I could roam with my friends. We didn’t have technology. We did have good friends and creative fun. That’s a tangent, though.
As I think about this Father’s Day and the wonderful gift my family gave me–first, sleep after a tournament weekend and when I wasn’t feeling well, and second, a fire pit, which will provide time for us to sit outside and talk (and I love to talk)–I am reminded of the very special gift my Father has given me as a father: the gift of a love like no other. I love my children and, quite frankly, I don’t think I could ever not love them. I love them in spite of their faults and often for them. I treasure them each for who they are, even when I get really annoyed when sometimes who they are is too much like me. I can’t not forgive them. I can’t not want the best for them. And that’s not because I’m so good, but rather because God has given me this gift, and because He has loved me so.
Do I fail them? Certainly, and too often. Do I lose my cool? Take a stab in the dark. Could and should I do better? God help me, of course. But, ultimately, end of the day, I love them, warts and all, and I forgive them, because they are my children, and I am fairly confident they forgive me (I’ve seen it again and again). This reminds me of my Father’s love for me, and even more, it reminds me what a Father I and they have, who needs no forgiveness and loves and forgives perfectly, because we are His children, the baptized.
I’ve never baptized my children. I’ve always had other pastors do it. I’m not saying pastors shouldn’t baptize their own kids. I am saying I shouldn’t. I didn’t want it to be about me. I wanted to stand with my wife and delight in the fact that my little sinners, too much like me in that, had a perfect Father, to be reminded that I was set free to father in the forgiveness of my Father, the forgiveness in which they too had real, meaningful life. I wanted to be reminded that this new relationship I had with a little creature who shared my DNA and bore my last name would be one of grace and mercy, me to him or her, him or her to me, and, most importantly, our heavenly Father, in Christ, to both of us.