I have often said that two of the most humbling times in my life happened the day I got married and the days that each of my four children were born. And when I say “humbling”, these were events that brought forced humility to my life, realizing that I had to place other people’s needs above my own.
In marriage, I quickly realized that for this new relationship to work, I had to (at least try to) place my wife’s needs above my own. In essence, I went from being a single guy who largely thought mainly about myself and my needs to being forced to consider constantly how my actions would impact my wife, Katie. That reality had a way of changing how I spent my time and my money, or if I should pick up my socks off the floor (yes, always yes).
When we had kids, that whole other-people-needs-above-my-own thing went to a different level. When little human beings are dependent on you for survival, that will happen. Suddenly, my most basic needs were being sacrificed, the need for sleep, the need for peace and quiet, the need to have a clean house that doesn’t smell like a sewer all the time—all gone!
It’s funny what God can do in your heart when you’re awakened from a deep sleep so that you can change the diaper for a crying baby who doesn’t even appreciate your herculean efforts to sacrifice for its well-being. Simply put, it’s humbling.
As a parent of young children, one of the phrases that you hear repeatedly is, “Enjoy every moment, because it goes fast.” I used to roll my eyes whenever I heard that because I was so anxious to get past the sleepless nights and diaper changing episodes. However, as my kids grow up, I realize how much truth was in that statement.
This week, my oldest daughter “graduated” from the fifth grade which means that I’m officially the parent of a middle schooler. That might not sound like a big deal for most, but for me, it makes me want to grab the reigns on time and hold it back with all my strength. Before I know it, in the blink of an eye, I’ll be walking her down the aisle and giving her away.
Of course, Sunday is Father’s Day which provides us with a great opportunity to honor our dads and I am thankful for their efforts to love their kids in each and every way that they do. At the same time, I will celebrate Father’s Day as another one of those times in my life when I am reminded of the great blessing of being a father. With all the sacrifice and struggle that sometimes comes with it, I know that I would never change a thing about it. I simply pray that I am wise enough to continue to cherish every moment that I get to be a father.
At the same time, I know that those moments are fleeting. As fleeting as those moments can be in this life, God is teaching me something in my role as a father that is more important and more permanent than just what it takes to raise four kids. He is teaching me about his own love for me.
The greatest lessons that I have learned as a father are about how God uses my role as a father to teach me about himself and to point my kids to him as their everlasting Father. Seeing God as Father communicates powerful images of love, sacrifice, and provision that would take a thousand lifetimes to fully explore.
I am reminded of Jesus words here, If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11
I’m thankful every time I get to see a glimpse of that reflected in my own life, both in my Father’s love for me and in my opportunities to love my kids in the same way that my Father in heaven loves me. As much as I can do for my kids, I am convinced that the most important thing that I can do is to be a father who points them to their Heavenly Father. That is my calling and that is why the Lord has entrusted me with their care.
So let’s celebrate our fathers this weekend, they are worthy of our honor. And as we do, let’s celebrate our Heavenly Father who gives us every good thing, including the blessing of being a dad.