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Sex, Fire, & Fathers: Potential for Great Good & Great Harm

Those things in life that have the greatest power for good also are able to cause the most pain and suffering. Sex. Fire. Fathers. Those are just a few things that come to mind when thinking of things that can cause both great joy and terrible harm. Yes, mothers could be put in this category, but today is Father's Day. Sex can be a beautiful and powerful expression of love and can produce precious children, but rape and molestation cause terrible life-altering pain. Fire can keep warm and set the mood for great stories and bonding, but can also destroy property and take life. But when I think of an earthly thing or relationship that has the greatest potential for both good and harm, I think of fathers.

There is rarely a more impactful voice in a child's life (or an adults life for that matter) than their dad. A father has the power to look into the eyes of their children and tell them they are loved and valuable, and the child will believe it. On the flip side, if a father tells a child they are good-for-nothing, unimportant, or worthless (with their words or actions), they will believe it. And if a father is absent for whatever reason, the child will often struggle with identity confusion and have a deep longing for that relationship.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. - Psalm 103:13

There are a few relationships on earth that give a picture and taste of what a relationship is like with God. Marriage is one (Ephesians 5:22-33). Another is the father-son or father-daughter relationship (Ps. 103:13; Mt. 6:26, 7:9-11, 18:12-14; Luke 15:17; Rom. 8:15-16; 1 John 3:1). I believe this is the primary reason that a faithful, loving, gentle, and strong father has such a great positive impact on a child's life. It tells the child the truth about who God is and who he or she is. On the other hand, in this fallen world not all father-child relationships preach the truth about who God is and who we are. This causes confusion and heartache.

Today, as I think of my dad and my role in life as a father, I also think of friends and clients I have had the privilege to counsel over the last several years. I think of some who have lost their fathers in death. Others have been hurt deeply by physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse by their fathers. Some have fathers who abandoned them before they were born or shortly thereafter. Many have decent relationships with their fathers, but long for much more.
To My Dad:  I love you. I am grateful for all you did to care for, provide for, and protect me when I was young. I am blessed by and thankful for our current friendship.

To Fathers: Your voice and presence matters in the life of your children. Strive to tell the truth about God's self-sacrificial love, faithfulness, and compassion (the list could go on) to your children by how you talk to and treat them. Tell the truth about your child's value and dignity by how you affirm them and make time for them. We fathers will all fall short, but lets strive to trust the Father to empower us, use our best efforts, and protect our children in our failures.
To Children (young and old): If your father is a gift in your life, praise God. If your father has hurt you deeply, I am so sorry. I know the pain can be overwhelming, and the lies you learned can seem so true. If you have never truly known the love of an earthly father or if that love was taken far too early, I am deeply sorry. If I know you, know that I am thinking of you today and praying that God be with you as you feel the ache and longing for a strong presence where there is nothing but absence. May our Heavenly Father be near to you today. The gut-wrenching longing will remain, but may the fatherhood of God be comfort and peace to you today and always (Ps. 68:5).

If someone I barely know tells me I am valuable, it would encourage me some. If they tell me I am good-for-nothing, it would upset me some. But if my dad tells me I am valuable and loved, I would be on cloud nine. And if my dad tells me I am good-for-nothing, it would all but destroy me. Remember, those things which have the greatest power for good also have the greatest power to destroy.
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