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                                                 A FATHER’S LOSS

Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

                                                                                                                 Proverbs 29:17

            After running an errand, I was my securing my seatbelt when I looked up to see a family of bicycles before my eyes.  Yes, a family of bicycles.  The SUV had an assembly of descending size bicycles being towed on the back.  The size order and quick count of five allowed me to deduce this was likely an average family on an outing.  The little bicycle-caboose drove away.  That happy sight brought the truth that for various reasons some fathers and children do not know such a simple joy as this. 

            There are fathers who do not get to teach their child to ride a tricycle, gain confidence to move up to a two-wheeler with training wheels, and then graduate to no training wheels and ride solo without dad’s help.  There are fathers who yearn for that experience but can only pine for or imagine such a time.  Such men may be serving in the military inIraq,Afghanistan, and bases worldwide.  Then there are fathers busy with work and focused on making money who miss out on opportunities; long hours at work may be essential to meet needs or some work out of fear to make more money to measure up with someone else.  There are fathers who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, food, and even work.  Such addictions create a chasm between fathers and children.  Bicycles and the experience of training and riding look routine enough but addiction can be strong enough to keep people from this typical activity.

There are fathers who are ill in mind, body or spirit who cannot hold themselves up let alone hold up a child on a bicycle. Some fathers have died.  There are fathers are caught up in gangs and distracted by the requirements of membership.  Some fathers are incarcerated and unable to have any privileges of interaction with children. They serve time for their sentence on a calendar and serve time in the heart.  There are fathers who are teenagers still trying to finish high school.  There are fathers in college attempting to take courses, take jobs, and take responsibility for being a father but have little time for bicycle frolic.  Some fathers are estranged or divorced from the mothers of their children; custody battles and emotional hurts may not allow for visitation.  Pain from severs between a man and woman who conceived a child together may not allow for contact.  Sometimes bicycles cannot even afford to be purchased due to divorce and economic constraints. 

Relational, physical, cultural, military, and economic realities of our time may not be conducive to fulfilling a child’s wishes for a father’s presence.  These realities create loss and grief—for fathers, children, and society.   As ever, the promise of God through His Son Jesus is of paramount importance to remember and apply.  This is for the sake of children who desperately need and want to be fathered.  Given the realities of society, male role models are needed and found in granddads, uncles, coaches, and teachers; persons essential in the lives of sons and daughters of God.  They serve a great purpose.

Scripture above gives a clear message that correcting a child as to what is right is a benefit not only for the child but extends to the elder.  The correction of a child may not come from the biological father.  However, if proper correction is given by those who step in to help raise a child, the calm passes to biological fathers and fathers-of-the-heart.  The significance of healthy male mentors cannot be overemphasized.  Whether for young girls and boys, toddlers and teens, or at any stage in life when good training and wisdom are needed to keep one moving in the right direction, those who help prop up a character do so not only for one person but for a family, for a country. 

God loves people.  The Lord knows life can hurt and hearts and can break for human reasons.  The Lord is there.  His Spirit, the Bible, and the presence of those who believe in the Lord are there to help encourage, assuage fears and grief, and bring hope.  Jesus is all about hope.  He came to bring hope for our earthly life and our eternal life.  The death of Jesus on the Cross atCalvaryis where the Lord shed His blood for the forgiveness of sin so that we could live in freedom in Him for this life and the life to come.  Whatever happens in this world, Jesus is the answer to remedy life’s circumstances to offer hope and continuance.  He loves you. He loves those you love—more than you do.  The love, strength, forbearance, and hope found in Christ are second to none.  No other love is stronger and able to keep one throughout all the stages of life. 

Bicycle rides, ice cream cones, homework, science projects, days at the beach, and little league cheering sections are activities meant to be shared to make memories, build character, and build lives.  A father may or may not be able to share in such times.  But others can.  Where there has been the loss of one kind there is God who brings gain of another kind.  Someone can step in to care, to call, to give of himself to be that father-of-the-heart.  All love comes from God.  Therefore, the equipping to love a child is available from God.  God responds to a prayer.  If more come to ask for God’s equipping, then maybe, just maybe, such a reach for God will produce more SUV’s seen with a bicycle-caboose.  Surely it is worth a prayer to find out.

Lord God of Israel, Your love is everywhere.  Lord Jesus of Nazareth, Your hope is everywhere.  Holy Spirit of wonder, Your witness is everywhere.  May hearts respond to Your heart, Father, to meet the needs of growing children.  In the exchange of giving for a youngster’s benefit, may men receive a touch of Your love that assures their belonging and security in You, their Father, who loves them so.  Children of all ages and stages in life need Your love, Father God.  Your love is our  in endless measure.  Forever in Christ, Amen.

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