When we think of good fathers, of good moments with our own fathers, we tend to think of those times we spent with him, working or playing together. I remember painting miniature models with my father, tedious detailed work, being praised for my steady hand and neat strokes.
I am glad that our society is changing, that we are allowing men the license to enjoy being fathers, to express their deep love for their children as they get to know them through the day to day work of raising, teaching and nurturing their children. I can’t imagine a better father’s day gift than to be able to enjoy being a father, with all of the love and heartbreak and happiness that entails. So, mothers, let your children’s father into their lives a little more. We don’t need to jealously guard our child-rearing domain. We all are blessed, fathers, mothers, and children, as fathers are given to the work of raising their children.
In thinking about this, I did consider briefly scriptural fathers, the great patriarchs of our religion. But for the most part, they are not the kind of father we would want our men to emulate today. One of my friends is preaching to her congregation about Abraham and Isaac today. That is about fathers, that but story is too deep for cursory examination, and too deeply and wonderfully troubling to take lightly.
The story that came to me as the best Old Testament father story is about a man who may not have even had children of his own. Elijah the Tishbite dwelt with a widow woman and her son during a time of famine, when he had sealed the windows of heaven against the hardness and wickedness of the people. The son fell so sorely sick that there was no breath left in him. And Elijah said “unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he…cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived” (1 Kings 17:15-24). The ostensible moral of the story seems to be that the widow’s faith is confirmed by the miracle, but I see a father figure, a man holding a sick child close to his heart and pleading with God to restore this beloved son.
“Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). For your Father’s Day, I wish you the blessing of children, to love and care for, your own or the others, the ones, like the widow’s son, who wander into your lives and through their need allow you to be a teacher or provider. To be a father.