FIRST-PERSON: The need for Father

MELISSA, Texas (BP)--As a dad, I admit that I have a lot to learn. Approaching this Father’s Day, I began to think about the parenting lessons I have learned thus far. The most important thing I have learned is that my four children really do need their father.

My baby son needs me because, right now, he can’t do it himself. He can’t feed himself, he can’t clothe himself, he can’t bathe himself. He needs me because life seems a whole lot worse than it really is. In my life, too, things like jobs and bills and pressures sometimes seem worse than they really are.

Each of my children needs me because they trust that I will be there every time. Sometimes I will arrive exactly when they expect me, sometimes a little later than they had planned, but they know that when they call, I will be there.

While I have learned a lot about fatherhood in the past six years, I still have a long way to go. While I am learning about being a father, my experiences have taught me a lot about the Heavenly Father, for He, too, sometimes waits for us to ask before He charges into our lives. I want to be wanted by my children and God wants to be wanted by His children.

My kids need me because I have been down this road before. They need me because they trust me to identify their pains and struggles in order to help them, because they often need a voice. When you can’t talk, it is tough to ask for help. Even if young children can speak, they often do not know what to ask for because every day brings a new challenge, a new battle that they have never fought.

Sometimes I stand right outside our baby’s door, waiting to be called. Once in a while, I will walk in just to check on him. Most of the time, however, I stand just beyond his eyesight, ready to charge in when needed and when asked. My Heavenly Father stands ready to help me through my difficulties of life, also. God stands ready to answer my calls of distress, just like I stand ready to aid my newborn son.

Sometimes, God teaches you lessons by bringing people into your life. I was at the dry cleaners one day, waiting to drop off my clothes. The man in front of me in line had a small daughter with him, probably three or four years old. To this young girl, the cleaners was a new adventure worthy of exploration. She was ready to experience the new adventure of the cleaners, but she was not ready to leave Daddy. To learn more, she walked around the store, climbed up on the counter, looked behind the clothes rack. She went everywhere.

There was one interesting side note to her travels, however. She never let go of dad. This girl kept one hand on her father’s leg and traveled around this small universe with her other hand. When she peeked underneath the moving clothes rack, she held daddy’s hand. When she climbed up on the counter, dad helped her up. When she observed the other customers in the store, she kept one hand on dad’s leg.

The dry cleaners was a novel adventure, a place she wanted to know and experience. The cleaners would have been new and scary without dad there, but in his presence, it was simply new.

Life is hard and many of the battles we face will be difficult. Many of the places we will visit may scare us. But that little girl taught me an important lesson. By exploring the universe with one hand connected to the Heavenly Father, He can guide my way.

If you need another reason to be a good dad, consider the research indicating the benefits to children of having a participative father. According to pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton (as quoted in "The Fine Art of Good Fathering"), “a father's involvement with a child increases the child's IQ, the child's motivation to learn, and the child's self-confidence. In addition, children with involved dads are more likely to develop a sense of humor as well as an inner excitement.”

Just like my infant son cannot make it without mom and dad right now, we can’t make it without our Heavenly Father. I want all of my children to know that I will always be by their side, ready to help and guide and love and teach them. Our Heavenly Father wants us to know that He, too, is ready to stand by our side, to love us, to forgive us, to take us home.

Our world needs more good dads and our world’s dads need God more. Have you asked the Father for help lately? To all the dads, Happy Father’s Day.


Trey Graham, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Melissa, Texas, is the author of "Lessons for the Journey" (America House, 2001) and "Light for the Journey" (PublishAmerica, 2004). He can be reached at pastor@fbcmelissa.org.

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