By SARAH REIN
The word father is a weighted one. It stirs up emotions that can run the gamut from love, admiration and gratitude to anger, disappointment and loss. For some, it calls up a rich lifetime of memories, and for others, there is a void and an ache. Men bear a holy burden of responsibility: to love their wives as Christ loves the church, to lead their families by sacrificing themselves, and to bring children up in the Lord while not provoking them to anger. How overwhelming that might feel.
As a woman, most of the scriptural directives in God’s Word apply to me as well … but not all of them. We have different roles. Neither superior nor less desirable — just different. But it is interesting to me to observe the profound effect fathers have. I shared with one of my elementary-age children that I was writing about Christian fathers, and she said, “They kind of feel like the most important part, don’t they?”
We could pick that statement and wording apart, but I find it fascinating that she intuitively understands how distinct and special her dad’s role is. We have all seen anecdotal and statistical evidence that lends credence to that notion. Men matter. Fathers matter.
My dad died almost two years ago — long enough for me to have gained some perspective on his legacy. I see reflections of my precious father when I buy an armload of used books even though I already have a stack on my nightstand, or when my brother laughs so hard he cries while sharing a hilarious story, or when my sister avoids conflict like the plague (Dad was peace-loving to a fault).
I see those reflections in more significant ways too: when my children hum the hymns they know because my father taught them to me; or how our families are deeply connected to our local churches because Daddy made that a priority in our family; or how we treasure laughter and don’t take ourselves too seriously because we saw him model that. Most importantly, I see those reflections in how each of our families loves Jesus and is teaching a new generation to love Him too.
My dad would be the first to say he wasn’t perfect. I feel certain he didn’t think he led us flawlessly or did everything “right.” So I want to encourage you, men, that if you are Christ’s, your inadequate attempts to obey God’s commands are covered in grace. You have a Savior who intercedes for you and whose perfection cloaks your weaknesses. Fight the good fight. Die to yourself every day. Take up your cross and follow your Lord. God is sovereign, and He can use your faithfulness in things great and small to provide blessings for generations.
This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!
– from “This Is My Father’s World” by Maltbie Babcock
Sarah Rein and her husband, Trey, are raising their four children in Brandon, where Trey is a school principal and Sarah is home a LOT. Luckily she’s an introvert who enjoys reading and learning about new things and people. The Reins love their church family at Lakeside Presbyterian and coffee.