“Our Father in Heaven…” is how Jesus taught his disciples to pray!!! Come to think of it – our earthly fathers are almost the physical image of our heavenly Father. In a fallen world, there is no such thing as a perfect human being and therefore, obviously, there are no perfect fathers either. Yet, we, as fathers, are exhorted and commanded to put all our efforts to become one. To be a father is both a privilege and a challenge. The one who does not strive for perfection negates the privilege and, purposefully, fails in his basic role and responsibility. So how do we go about it?
1. Begin as a good husband: Cultivating a good marriage by being a good, loving and caring husband is the nursery to cultivate a good father. The word “Husband,” surprisingly, is derived from the word “Hairband” – an elastic that holds the hair together. A Husband is the “house + band,” who holds a family together. He protects his wife and the home from outside attacks as well as has the unique role of providing for all the needs of the family. Doesn’t it sound like what the heavenly Father does – “Give us this day our daily bread…Deliver us from the evil one”?!! As the head of the house, the husband not only provides and protects but also has the responsibility of sanctifying his wife through the Word of God. (Ephesians 5:23-26)
2. Becoming a ‘perfect’ father: We all know the story of the “Prodigal Son.” A closer study of the passage will reveal that the father is the real hero and not the son. The father exhorts and pleads with the younger son not to go and then permits him the freedom to choose his own path and, in the process, also makes allowances for mistakes. He waits for the son to realize, repent and return. So when the son returns, the expectant father runs towards him and receives him eagerly and lavishly. We observe here a sacrificial love called the “agape love” – a love that sets no condition. The father rejoices and celebrates the return of one son and then appreciates the other for always staying with him. Jesus, in this story, gives us the picture of a model father who allows his family members to learn even through mistakes, intercedes for their faults, waits for restoration, accepts and loves without conditions as well as appreciates all that is praiseworthy.
Are you a father with these qualities? May the heavenly Father help you become the right earthly father, the one who loves unconditionally, just like our invisible heavenly Father!