“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up
in the training and instruction of the Lord.”—Ephesians 6:4
Father’s Day is upon us. The day never gets as much play as Mother’s
Day, which is a shame. The importance of a father’s presence in the life
of a child is no less as important as a mother’s, and, therefore, just
as worthy of our attention. Indeed, a father’s absence can be
devastating for a child, statistically correlating with increased rates
of poverty, delinquency, teen pregnancy, drug use, lack of education,
lack of empathy, incarceration, and suicide. Our nation’s children are
crying out for the love and affirmation of their fathers.
There is good news and bad news regarding fatherhood in America. The bad
news, according to recent studies, is that the percentage of homes
without the presence of a father continues to increase; the good news is
that fathers who are present are more directly involved in childrearing.
(Did you know that studies also show that the father’s participation or
non-participation in church has the greatest influence on whether or not
a child will have a relationship with the church as an adult?)
Elie Wiesel’s son Elisha sat by his father’s deathbed a year ago this
week and he asked him if there was anything he could do for him. His
father would look into his eyes and say: “Just be.”
“Nothing more than that. There were no more requests. No message he
needed me to deliver, no instruction he needed me to absorb. Now the
only thing he wanted to convey was his love for me, and his faith in the
direction I would take my life. He wanted me to understand what my
existence meant to him, not the concept of a son, but the actual me, the
good and the bad and the imperfect and flawed, the whole package. ‘Just be.’
“His love for me was an impossible love. His belief in me was an
impossible belief. But he had a way of holding impossible beliefs. And
now I, too, have impossible beliefs, beliefs that do not square with
rational thought. I believe he is still with me, still believing in me.
In the moment when he died, he went from being somewhere to being
nowhere — and then he was everywhere. It was as though I could feel the
universe resonating with his love for me, saying: I am still loving you.
I will always love you. I am with you in everything you do.”
It’s a message every child needs to receive from a father, if not from
our earthly father, then certainly from our Heavenly Father.
See you Sunday at our Father’s house,