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Dad: The family shepherd

Father’s Day.

This coming Sunday, June 16, we’ll observe it and here’s hoping you’ll take the time to honor your dad if he’s still living. And, even if he’s not, I hope you’ll still give thanks for him, regardless of whether he was a “good” father or not.

I know for some of you reading this column that that’ll be difficult for you — for your father was a drunk … or a womanizer … or an overbearing tyrant, who abused you sexually, mentally and/or emotionally. And, honoring him or giving thanks for him is the farthest thing from your mind.

But, dear Reader, even if one of the above descriptions fits your father, at least you can thank God for using him to show you how a father shouldn’t be.

I never knew my biological dad. He left our mother for another woman, who was already pregnant by him before he divorced our mom. And, it was only years later when he resurfaced that I was able to let him know I’d forgiven him.

Somewhere around the age of 2, my two sisters and I went to live with a couple in their 30s and 40s who couldn’t have children. They adopted us and our names were changed to Smith. By today’s standards ours was definitely a dysfunctional home where there was a lot of conflict.

But, some of my fondest memories were going hunting with John Smith or working with him on the farm where he was a sharecropper farmer. He only had a seventh-grade education, but was a hard-working man. And, through him I learned a good work ethic and the importance of your word being your bond.

Interestingly, neither my biological or adoptive father knew their natural fathers. Thus, they had no good models to go by and had to “wing it” when it came to parenting. And, consequently, I also didn’t have the nurturing, mentoring type of father-son relationship that’s needed for healthy relationships in the next generation.

But, I did the best I could.

After marrying in 1973, God blessed us with three sons. They were all different in temperament and interests. So often their mom was Grace and I was Law. I’m sure there were times I was a bit too harsh or strict on them and could/should have spent more time with them.

Even so, I still thank God for helping me try to raise them right and teach them basic, Biblical values that will last them for a lifetime. So far, it seems that the lessons took — for all three of them are doing well in their respective fields. I’m proud of them and I know their mother was too before she was called Home last year.

Although there are a lot of books out there on parenting and lots of “experts” on being a good father, I still believe the best Book is the Bible. In its pages we find God’s Instructions for men on how to live Godly lives. We also learn how men are to be Champions and Heroes of Faith.

For sure, all of these men — from Abraham to Jacob to Joseph to Moses to David to the Apostles — were imperfect men. The Bible doesn’t paint them larger-than-life, but shows them with all their flaws and shortcomings.

But, in spite of them all, God still used them. And, He still wants to use us men today.

Perhaps the greatest depiction of a Godly father is that of a shepherd. A shepherd’s responsibility is watching over the sheep and protecting them from harm. He also has to lead them to “green pastures and still waters” (Psalm 23:2). And, at the end of the day he spends time with each one … examining them for injury and “anointing their head with oil” to help bring healing (v.5) … and searching for them if they stray.

If you’re reading this article and you’re a dad, I commend you to the Lord. He loves you and has a Plan for your life — particularly when it comes to loving your wife and raising your children. Remember: there are no perfect dads; only forgiven ones.

Here’s hoping this Father’s Day will be a special one for you and your family. May you feel the Heavenly Father’s Love in a special way on Sunday because no earthly father has ever loved you the way He does (John 3:16). God bless you.

To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.

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