Last Sunday was Father's Day, and in typical Parks family fashion, I forgot. So with some quick-thinking we took Erik to get sushi after gathering with our church family. But I wanted to take a minute today to thank my husband for being the dad he is, and to call attention to a wonderful, short post on fatherhood written by my own dad.
Here's an excerpt, but really everyone should just go over and read this, and I'm not just saying it because he's my dad:
An estimated 33 percent of American children live apart from their biological fathers, and that figure is expected to grow to 50 percent by the next century at the current rate. The fallout from this trend is well documented in a number of social indicators.
What does this plague of fatherlessness mean for the church? Well, of course, it is a reminder Christian fathers should be faithful and loving husbands and dads. But it means more than that. It means the adult men in our churches have the opportunity to be spiritual fathers to boys and girls, young men and ladies who have not known the love, acceptance and guidance they longed for from the men whose genetic makeup they share.
This will cost us as Christian men. It will cost the church. But isn't that what it means to be a Christian man? Isn't that what it means to be the church? After all, we follow the God who became man and served us at great cost to Himself. He suffered and died for spiritual orphans who had no loving father. May we die to our own interests and comforts in order to be the kind of father figures who can provide a bridge to our Heavenly Father.
For the past two summers we have had a week-long backyard Bible club for kids in our neighborhood. This year we decided not to do it, for various reasons, one being that it was not well-attended.
But a main reason is that I think we're learning something about neighboring, and about relationships in general. It's easier to plan a program, than to just be present. It's more convenient to schedule time to be with our neighbor kids, than to say "yes" when they knock on the door.
And this is something I love about my husband. Many nights each week, he is outside with seven or eight kids, playing basketball, refereeing arguments, keeping kids from running over old ladies with bikes (true story), and just loving our smallest neighbors. The kids love him because of his ball-handling skills and his jokes. But I think really they love him because he's there. Not all of their dads are there all the time, some in large part because of the shifts they work. These are not kids who are "fatherless," but they are craving male relationships, if only just to reinforce what they hear from their own dads, rather than what they hear and see in the world around them.
It's not easy. It's frequently inconvenient, and never what he is longing to do when he pulls up after a long day at work. But I think he understands something better than I do, what C.S. Lewis was talking about when he wrote this:
The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's "own," or "real" life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day.
I'm far more likely to say "no" to my own kids, and the neighbor kids, in an effort to be "productive." But my husband has learned something I'm still learning--that true productivity is being faithful in the things God brings to us each day.
I worry I won't have enough or be enough if I spend my "extra time" on other things. But God is teaching me, through my closest neighbor (my husband) that He gives more grace and more love. As I John 4:19 says, I can love because He first loved me.
So this is a belated Happy Father's Day post for my husband, and my own father who exhibited the same lifestyle as I was growing up. And it's an encouragement to myself and others that real life is the interruptions, and God gives us the strength and grace we need to live this real life in His Spirit for His glory.
Photo credit: Kevin Conor Keller on flikr