IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN
1 Timothy 5: 1-8
Rev. Misty Polston York
Today we celebrate Father’s Day! I read an interesting story
the other day entitled, “The Day That God Created Fathers.” It
goes like this:
On the day that God created fathers an Angel of the Lord stood in the background and watched.
“Lord,” the Angel asked, “are you sure that you know what you are doing? If children are so close to the ground, why are you making fathers so high up? After all, they will have to kneel down if they ever shoot marbles with their children. They will have to lean way over to tuck them into bed at night, and they will have to bend so far down to kiss them.”
The Heavenly Father said, “Don’t worry. I know exactly what I am doing. If I didn’t make fathers so high,
then what would children have to look up to?”
Then the Lord made the hands of the father. They were big and sinewy and awkward. The Angel asked, “Have you really thought this through? Those fingers are so big and clumsy. How will they be able to handle the pins of a diaper, or unbutton a little button? They will never be able to take a rubber band off of a ponytail, or remove a splinter from a finger.”
God replied, “Relax. They’ll be just fine. They are big enough to hold all the things that a young boy takes out of his pockets at the end of the day, and they are large enough to cup the face of a child.”
God continued on, and He made the legs of a father. They were long and bony and hairy and not very attractive. And then He made broad shoulders. The Angel asked, “Lord,
do you realize what you have done? You have made a father
without a lap! How is he ever going to be able to hold a child close to him without that child slipping through his legs?”
God answered, “Mothers need laps, fathers need broad
shoulders so that they can pull a sled in winter, and balance a bicycle in the summer, and cradle the sleeping head of a child on the way home from church.”
Then, just as God was in the middle of creating two of the biggest feet that you have ever seen, the Angel said, “It’s
not fair. Do you really believe that those two big feet are going to get up in the middle of the night and respond to a crying child?”
God answered, “They will work, you will see. They are big enough to support a father who is pretending to be a horse while his child is riding to an imaginary castle. They are big enough to wear two shoes that will be a challenge for any child to fill.”
Then God gave the father a voice that was strong and authoritative. He gave him eyes that could see everything and yet remain calm and in control. Last of all, God gave the father tears. Then He turned to the Angel and He asked, “Do you still doubt that he can love as much as a mother?”
And the Angel said, “I doubt no more.”
John Dresser wrote a book titled, “If I Could Do It All
Again.” In it he shares 8 things that he would do differently if he
could go through his years of being a father all over again. Here is
what Dresser wrote:
First of all, if I could do it all over again, I would love my wife more. Because, by loving my children’s mother (or father) more, I would create an environment of security in our home. Our love would be something that they could see, and something that they would never have to worry about.
Second, I would laugh more. I would relax and enjoy my children and laugh at their antics. I would spend more time with them and enjoy being their father.
Third, I would present a more realistic model for them to follow. I would be honest with them about myself. I would let them know that I had problems in school, too. I would let them know that I stumbled, that I made mistakes, and that I failed. I would let them know that I understand, and that they can come to me when they fail, because I have been there as well.
Fourth, I would listen to what they have to say. I would listen to their pains and problems, and worries and concerns. I would listen when they wanted to talk to me, because now I realize that if I listen to them when they are small and have problems, then when they are big and have big problems, they will still come and talk to me.
Fifth, I would stop praying so much for my family, and start praying more for myself. Because a father’s prayers so often sound like this, “God, make my son and daughter good
people. Help them to succeed in school. Help them to find the right person to marry. Take care of them and protect them.” We are always praying for them it seems. But, I would start praying more for myself. That I might be the right kind of father, realizing that when I become the right father, my children will probably become the right kind of children.
Sixth, I would pay more attention to the little things. I would begin to appreciate the touch of love and the word of encouragement. So many times we fathers and mothers are quick to criticize our children’s failures, and we are so slow to praise and encourage them when they do something right.
Seventh, I would create an environment of belonging. I would want my children to know that they belong, and that they are very important family members, because I realize that there are going to be people who say to them join this and join that. But, if they have a solid identity in the home and in the family they will not easily be led astray.
Last, but certainly not least, I would make God an
intimate friend of my family. I would use His name freely. I
would communicate to them that He is involved in all our
family decisions. I would want them to see me pray and read
God’s word and search for His direction and leadership.
Folks, if I had my life to live over again, I think that I
would try very seriously to improve in those eight areas also.
Well, fathers and mothers, what does the Bible say about all of this? What does the Bible say about our responsibilities as parents?
First, the Bible says that we are to PROVIDE. The scripture tells us that one of our responsibilities as fathers and mothers is to provide. Paul writes in 1 Timothy that, “if anyone does not
provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” We are called to provide for our family. To make sure that our children have a home, and food to eat, and clothing to wear. But, scripture also teaches us that there must be a balance. Sometimes we are so focused on providing things that we present an unbalanced picture to our children, and the result is that a lot of materialistic monsters have been created.
I am afraid that there are a lot of kids growing up who do not realize that you have to work, and earn, and save, and wait before some of the good things in life become yours to use and enjoy. I shudder, because I think that we are creating people who will never appreciate the hard work that has gone before to create the nation that they are inheriting, and they will not be willing to pay the price to keep it right.
God has always provided for his children. But, He never provided too much. When the Children of Israel were in the wilderness, God provided them manna for just one day at a time. Every morning they would have to go out and collect the manna
thagain. Only on the 6 day did He give them extra so that they
would not have to work on the Sabbath. And God did not put it in
baskets for them. They had to go out and gather it for themselves. They had to work for it.
It seems to me, fathers and mothers that this is a message that we need to hear loud and clear – Provide, but make sure that you
do not provide too little, or too much! Make sure that your children have all that they need, but also make sure that they appreciate those things and are willing to go out and work for them when their turn comes.
We also need to provide spiritual leadership for our children. Paul writes, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children. Instead,
bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This is another one of our responsibilities, to provide discipline and instruction, and to make sure that we are spiritual leaders in our homes. If we are not spiritual leaders in our homes, then we are neglecting a very important responsibility that God has given to us.
We are also to provide an environment where children understand authority in the home and thereby appreciate authority in the world as well. If we do not provide that, we will end up with lots of rebels – and there is plenty of evidence of that happening already.
The second thing that fathers and mothers are called to do is to PROTECT. Instinctively, almost all of us have those feelings of wanting too hold our families close and make sure that nothing ever harms them. We want to say to all that is evil and all that could hurt, “You must not come through the door of our house.”
Several years ago, for nearly 3 months, or nation anxiously watched the confrontation in Montana between the FBI and the Freeman. And we are thankful that it ended without any bloodshed. But, all during that time we were being constantly reminded by the media of David Koresh and his followers, and the terrible events that occurred near Waco, Texas.
Some of you who are older can recall the James Jones tragedy when hundreds followed him into the jungles of Guyana and ended up drinking Kool Aid laced with cyanide to commit mass suicide. There were mothers who gave cyanide Kool Aid to
their children, and listened as they screamed their last breaths. Successful people, people with money, people with faith, followed James Jones into the jungle to die.
We wonder, “How could people possibly do that?” But here
were people who were longing for a father-figure to say that he loved them; an authoritative voice to tell them how to live. It did not make a difference that the doctrine was wrong, or that it was a pipe dream that they were following. They were longing for something that had been missing in their lives.
Fathers, ask yourself, “Am I meeting that very basic need for my children, so that they will never be in search for a father figure some place else?” PROTECT THEM! Make sure that they are being taught the right things. Make sure that their minds are being filled with wholesome truths. Protect them from all the evil and false doctrines that are out there. Parents, we are to provide for our children and we are to protect them!
Finally, we are to PRAY! We pray because we are not really sure how to answer all of our children’s questions. Or, we do not know how to solve all of their problems. Or, we do not know how to be a good father or mother, so we pray.
We pray that God will help us, and give us wisdom and strength, and His guidance. We pray that we will be sensitive to what is going on in our children’s lives. We pray that we will be loving, and understanding, and authoritative, and all the things that a good parent should be. Because, without God’s help, I do not see any way that we can be the kind of parent that we need to be.
Have you hear of Brooks Adams? His father was the
Ambassador to Great Britain under Abraham Lincoln. Brooks recalled, “The best day of my life when I was growing up was the day when my dad took me fishing. I remember that we talked and spent time together.” Time and time again, Brooks recalled that
wonderful day he and his father went fishing.
Years later, a historian was going through Ambassador Adams’ papers and found the diary in which that day was
mentioned. Brooks’s father had written, “Went fishing today with my son. The day was wasted.”
I wonder how many wasted days have come and gone that were monumental days in the lives of our children, and we never knew? I wonder how many things we were going to do but never got around to doing them that might have changed a life and molded a personality?
If I could do it all over again, I would thank God more for the years with my children; for sticky faces, for constant questions, for toys on the floor, for too much noise, for not enough privacy, and for the words, “Mommy or Daddy, I love you.” I would thank God for all of that and much, much more.
Maybe there are some people here this morning who long for a father to reach out and love them and forgive them. Maybe there are some here this morning who have never known a voice of authority and the tender discipline and understanding that only God can provide. Maybe there are some who are still wondering and looking for a place to belong.
Then, I would point you to Jesus, my Savior, and my Lord. I invite you to know God as your loving heavenly father who loved you so much that He gave the greatest gift that we could ever receive.