I never knew my biological father. Him and my mom went their own ways before memories could be preserved in my mind. Most of what I learned about him has been in recent years through a cousin that found me through social media. There is no doubt that my father loved me and regretted not seeing me grow into a man. I think he would have approved of my life.
I did know two step-fathers. The first one my mom married when I was eight years old. He was a hard-working man. A welder by trade and a Vietnam veteran. We did not know about PTSD back then but he suffered from it. The most uncomfortable memories of him was the times he woke up screaming from nightmares of war memories. Despite his personal struggles he took on the responsibility of a family of five children.
My first step-dad taught me things like how to ride a bike. In fact the first bikes we owned were ones he built out of old bike parts. He taught me how to fish, shoot a gun, respect a gun, and basics of gardening to name a few things. My fascination with metal work and welding are directly attributed to the times I got to go on job sites with dad.
The most valuable thing dad instilled into me was to respect others. He made sure we went to church and as a result I am still a Christ follower. I have his last personal Bible and still recall some of the sermons we heard when I read the notes in it. Mark, (Dad), passed away from an illness when I was twelve. You see, not every casualty of war dies on the battlefield.
A couple of years later Mom remarried. This time to a self-proclaimed atheist. We never did see eye to eye about the importance of church. In fact we did not share the same view on anything that pointed to a creator God. The disagreements we had about spiritual matters caused me to dig deeper for truth in the Bible. As a result I became increasingly grounded in my beliefs. It was not always easy for me to have conversation with David but he tried to teach me the best way he knew how on the skills needed in life. Despite his own problems him and Mom loved each other. David passed away almost nine years ago. It is not for me to judge the condition of a persons eternity, after all it only takes a moment to reconcile with God.
I myself am a father that has raised three children to adulthood. In many ways I have been a mix of three men that modeled fatherhood to me. Looking back it is truly God’s grace that my kids don’t have any serious personal issues. But then again, at some point I was no longer responsible for my children’s actions and they were never responsible for mine.
If you have read previous posts it is obvious this is written differently than usual. The reason for that is as we celebrate Father’s Day it is often overlooked that dads are humans too. They (we) make mistakes and choices that aren’t always healthy for families. Every father has a lasting impact on their children.
My parents guided and directed me through teaching and discipline. Most of the time I did not immediately embrace their correction. Later I realized how much it has influenced me to be a better person than if left to my own desires. Our heavenly Father also corrects and disciplines us for our benefit.
Hebrews 12:5-11 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
To those fathers that are reading this have a happy Father’s Day! Be encouraged to love your Father and respect whatever redeeming qualities he may have. Know that we have a heavenly father that has perfect love and is always worthy of respect and honor.
Rev. Burt Schwab