I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake, I am writing to you, fathers, because you have known him from the beginning.Fathers, consistently confront your children with the life-altering forgiveness of Jesus - because children have a unique ability to utterly self-forget and focus outward when first awestruck. What happens then at being awestruck? They are able to learn about Jesus without the jaded cynicism, without the colored past that colors our view of Jesus and what we like best about him, without the pressures of adult life that aims to get what we wish to get out of Jesus. When they discern and acknowledge the "Big No" in their own hearts called sin and make the connection to Jesus the Rescuer - they camp out on that bridge! It becomes all about "his name's sake" and there is no other season like this in their lives.
Earlier this week, we had a night of hockey practice (yes, in the Cayman Islands...lots of wonderful Canadians live here and have brought their beloved hockey!!) and two different elementary school open houses to attend. Juggling the boys on my own at the hockey rink, I came across a decision Katie had made that didn't immediately "sit well" with me. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve and, while I didn't say anything, the boys detected that I was visibly upset. In between a little chaos here and there, Katie engaged in her own talk with God in the car and humbly apologized to me, which she didn't need to but her example deeply softened my heart. She proceeded to join her own open house where she is an Art Teacher while I set out on my own to engage our boys with our nightly family worship. We talked about the difference Jesus' forgiveness makes. I asked if they recognized Dad's anger earlier in the day: "Uh, yeah, your face told the story" said Mason. I had opportunity to share with them how their Mom responded: Humbly having already sought out and experienced God's forgiveness - and how her example impacted Dad. They both responded with smiles and snuggles (10 & 7 year old boys - getting increasingly rare) and with awe: "Man, Jesus can really do that, can't he?!" The forgiveness of Jesus breaking into real life absolutely captivated them such that we then had opportunity to talk more about instances in the gospels where Jesus humbly extends forgiveness and its softening impact on those who experienced it.
Fathers, remember you can know the One who has been a Father from the beginning. You feel the pressures of caring for a family. Thinking about what you are imparting to them, how to say it/impart it, their education now, their education years from now, balancing time in the office and your travel schedule with time at home. Furthermore, your responsibility for others, as a kind of father-figure, may extend outward over those in a small business, or providing direction for those who care for others. There is One who has been a Father from the beginning, who has cared for every need and been faithful to every promise for generations. He's had to stomach hard decisions: Kicking Adam & Eve out of the Garden; starting over through Noah; keeping Moses from the promised land, withholding the temple building project from David who dreamed it, and not taking from Jesus the bitterest cup of just wrath -- and all the ones in between both in the Bible and since. All along He's watched each decision profit the person, His people, and His name. He knows. Learn from Him, stay near to Him.
I love you, fathers. God is using you! Keep fighting the good fight as you hold out to your kids the forgiveness of Jesus and hold fast to the faithful Father of every generation.