Happy Father’s Day. I love this day. Here are a few thoughts in my head this morning written to honor all the fathers out there but most importantly to honor my children who for me make being a father so great.
The scripture from the Proclamation on Family might be my favorite in scripture. Psalms 127:3.
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
I like the KJV for its poetry and classic tradition, but this verse doesn’t quite portray the beauty and simplicity of the verse. Children are a gift from God. Getting to watch your kids dance and sing and play ball and pull pranks and tell jokes and golf with you and go to lunch with you and watch movies with you and talk and hang out together. This is the reward of life.
I am not the most selfless guy always serving others, but when I do make attempt to serve my children, the reward comes back ten fold. If I share food with a child, my portion then becomes manna. If I offer a bed, my sleep becomes as if in Eden I dream. If I dress a wound, peace binds up my broken heart.
I recently came across a beautiful insight from Nate Bergin in a comment on a Wheat and Tares blog post about the Parable of the Prodigal Son about the father.
The archetype of the prodigal son is universal and essential to the human condition. Robert Millet’s view is stuck in a particular stage of the archetypal prodigal story: the sorrow of the parent for the departure of the child, and the (unrealistic) hope that the child will one day return to the exact particularities of the parent’s worldview. That’s not what generally happens, and if it WAS what generally happened, there would be no progress in the world.
Jordan Peterson amplifies the parable by drawing on the story of Pinocchio. The father wants the child to grow up to be “real” as the father sees it. But it’s a path that doesn’t work for either the parent or child. The child experiments at Pleasure Island, and the father goes out and loses his own way trying to find his son. When the son tries to return, the home is abandoned. He must go out and resurrect his own father from the belly of the whale.
Pinocchio emphasises transformation as well as redemption. The son must return to the father, but he must also save the father, who has equally lost his way. The son does this by returning to SOME of the values of his father, but with other values he has gained on his particular journey of suffering and challenge. Thus the world achieves a balance of both the conservative and the progressive.
The father is redeemed by the child that goes out into the world, experimenting with what he’s learned at home. So beautiful and as my oldest children have reached mission and adult age, so true for me. It reminds me of these lyrics from the Killer’s song Be Still.
One day you’ll leave
Fearlessness on your sleeve
When you’ve come back, tell me what did you see
What did you see (what did you see)
Was there something out there for me?
My last thought is from Adam Miller’s presentation on grace at BYU earlier this year. If you haven’t heard it, please treat yourself to the whole talk. You can find it here. Scroll down to the middle for Adam’s talk. https://wheatley.byu.edu/lectures-on-grace/
In his talk, he relates the experience of losing a belief in God. This was not a loss of belief in God, generally. But a loss in belief in a specific kind of God. The distant, judgemental God who is not approachable. He’s a stern, angry father sitting on a throne in a distant universe. He knows we have great potential and wants us to achieve it, but he’s not approving of where we’re at now, and will keep his distance until we get our act together a little more. He later came to believe in a God who is always present and always loving.
Creation is perfect. There is no need for reconciliation between a judgmental Father and an imperfect child. Because the child was perfect in creation and since creation is ongoing, the perfection of creation is ongoing. In the last few minutes in this short clip, you can hear him apply this to his view of his son.
He’s tempted to play the part of the distant Father when he sees his son, but explains how this would be a mistake and goes on to describe his son as being so perfect in his imperfection.
He says that we as fathers should see our children like the father in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
If this boy is not the Word of God, God never spoke!
I still can’t read this or hear this quote without breaking down in tears.
The five children God has given me as a gift are the reward of my life.