A Father’s Love
September 3, 2021
Before having children, I had four theories on fatherhood. Now I have four children, I have no theories! I say this in jest, but there is some truth to it. Fatherhood is difficult.
This week we honour fathers. Many have reflected over the years on the significance and challenges of fatherhood:
“Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.” (Barack Obama)
“Every father should remember one day his son will follow his example, not his advice.” (Charles Kettering)
“My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.” (Clarence Budington Kelland)
“The quality of a father can be seen in the goals, dreams and aspirations he sets not only for himself, but for his family.” (Reed Markham)
The Bible has a lot to say about fatherhood as well. In one of Jesus’ most famous parables – the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15.11-32 – he tells the story of a wayward son which ends up saying more about the father than it does about the son.
In Jesus’ story, a man has two sons. The younger one demands his inheritance. His father is heartbroken but gives him his portion anyway. The son goes off and squanders his inheritance on profligate living. He hits rock bottom and dreams of returning to his father, even if it is only to work as a hired hand. He musters up the courage to return home only to find his father running to embrace him. He is astonished at the father’s acceptance of him. The father hosts a party for the son who was lost but has now been found.
The son in the parable is humankind who has resisted and rejected God’s love, suffering the consequences of our rebuttal. The father is God who will not force his love on us but will never stop loving us just the same. He rejoices when we return to receive his love because he knows that’s what’s best for us.
It is a wonderful image of God who is the father of us all. It is a picture of gentleness, strength, wisdom, long-suffering, hope and love. This portrait of God is meant to be the measure of our standard of fatherhood. We bring blessing to our children when we can reflect God’s ways to them. But what’s so encouraging about Jesus’ parable is that when we fail – as inevitably we will – we can return to God like the prodigal son and find his fatherly love which supports and strengthens us to persevere in our own fatherhood.
Normally we would have gathered on Friday in the Junior School for our annual Father’s Day Breakfast. It is another sad causality of COVID. Still, I wish all TIGS fathers a special weekend with your families. May you be enriched as you rest with the ones you love most.