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September 15, 2019 | Doug Sauder
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I've lived in South Florida my entire life. Born and raised in the 305 (Miami), and never really having the chance to travel, I’ve had no exposure to the different seasons. Down here, we have two seasons: summer and less hot summer . . . and no, I’m not exaggerating. I’ve never seen the leaves fall in autumn, the snow fall in winter, or all the lovely things that happen in spring. That’s right, friend, after 32 years, I still haven’t gotten to experience the different seasons God created for us to enjoy.
Life is a lot like the seasons of nature. But instead of being marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight, our seasons are marked by changes in circumstances and stages of life. Today, as we get ready to celebrate Father’s Day, we want to look at the different seasons of fatherhood. We’ll see what different fathers at different stages have learned in their current season, what God is showing them about who they are and who He is, and the lessons they’ve learned.
As with nature, today we’ll experience four seasons of fatherhood . . .
Expecting The Unexpected
By Youth Pastor Javan Shashaty
The day was November 3, 2016. I tossed my heavy backpack on the floor after a long, exhausting day. I was greeted by my wife, who quickly shut our bedroom door. Curious about what she was hiding, I opened the door to find a onesie held up by balloons and a sign that said: "Ten Little Toes." I couldn't believe it. We were pregnant!
The joy I felt that day was unexplainable. I was going to be a dad! Soon, we found out we were having a boy. So many exciting thoughts ran through my mind, as did an overwhelming sense of responsibility . . . the responsibility of a father who wants nothing more than to raise his son in the fear of the Lord.
There is a weight and a heaviness to fatherhood. Just like the Psalmist wrote: “Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, children, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3–4 HCSB).
This July, God will place an arrow in my hands. One that I will craft, sharpen, and one day fire. As I await the arrival of my arrow, I can't help but wonder what he will become. "Will he give his life to Jesus at a young age? Will he follow in obedience every day? Will he wander from his faith and find himself lost and confused?" So many thoughts and questions run through my head.
But in this season, God has given me peace. Why? Because I’ve realized that my fathering will not be perfect. I am going to make mistakes. But you know what? God is perfect. He never fails. Isaiah tells us that God is the potter and we are the clay. We are all the work of His hands (Isaiah 64:8). The best part about making something out of clay isn't always the finished product, it's the journey that it took to make it.
Fatherhood isn't about having the perfect kid; it's about walking in obedience while you enjoy the crazy, spontaneous, fun-filled journey of raising a kid. I don't know what to expect! I’m prepared for the unexpected! But I do know this: I don't want to miss a single moment of the journey because I know that if I walk in obedience to God and His Word, it's going to be one amazing ride.
The Wonder Years
By Communications Minister Danny Saavedra
Being a dad to a pair of young kids is definitely an interesting season. I can think of no better way to describe it than by saying it’s like going to school. Every day, my kids learn new things, new wonders, and amazing discoveries . . . and every day I learn something new and wonderful about them—and myself.
It’s so amazing, humbling, and often even challenging to see their character traits and personalities develop. How so? Because children usually mimic what they see their parents do. They really are little versions of us. Sometimes, I see this deep passion, enthusiasm, and creativity in my kids, and I can’t help but see myself. Sometimes, I’ll see my five-year-old son sharing his toys with his classmates, and he’ll tell me, “I like sharing because you share your stuff with me, daddy!” Other times, I’ll see my one-year-old daughter’s impatience and stubbornness, and again, I can’t help but see myself. See what I mean? Amazing. Humbling. Challenging.
One of the things the Lord’s shown me so vividly in this season is the importance of boundaries. He’s taught me that if I expect to set boundaries for my kids, then I better set the same kind of boundaries for myself. He’s shown me how necessary grace and love are in the discipline process. That’s why I’ve developed the habit of always saying, “I love you even when I’m upset at you, even when you make the wrong choices.”
Most importantly, He’s shown me that talk is cheap. I’ve learned that if I want my kids to follow Jesus, to be transformed daily, to be truly passionate, zealous disciples of Christ, I need to SHOW them how. I need to intentionally demonstrate what a healthy, growing relationship with the Lord looks like. I need to exemplify the principles of Christ-like faith, share wisdom, have hard conversations, be authentic, show them the power of the gospel in my life, study the Bible in front of them and alongside them, and pray with and for them. Even at this young age, these things truly stick in their minds.
I love this season of fatherhood. Seeing my kids grow and shine in their own ways, bonding with them, and especially all the hugs and kisses and the amount of time I hear “I love you, daddy.” I’m grateful for the lessons and memories.
The Teenage Years, a.k.a. “The Fall”
By Pastor Dan Hickling
I know this isn’t breaking news, but the teenage stage is where problems typically escalate. It’s when you really start to hear yourself saying things like, “I can’t believe you did that!” or “How could you let something like this happen?”
Just as a tornado needs the right environmental conditions to form, the atmosphere of a teenager’s world is primed for sinful scenarios. The quest for identity, newfound freedoms, hormones . . . they can create a twister of temptation they don’t always withstand.
Let me come right out and say that I don’t have this all figured out. With a daughter halfway through her teens and a son just launching into them, I’m often a dad with more questions than answers. But God uses parenthood to teach us we need His wisdom. And when it comes to fathering through these teenage years, He’s called me to camp on the principle in the following verse: “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20 NKJV).
Here’s how God works. When we sin, He responds with grace. Not only that, His grace is greater than our sin. So although sin does have consequences, God’s grace is always the last thing standing in our lives! We aren’t cast off and condemned, we’re received and restored because that’s what grace does.
Apply that same principle to parenthood, especially when sin abounds. Isn’t it best for earthly fathers to emulate our heavenly Father? Shouldn’t we have the same heart towards our teens that God has towards us? Yes and yes.
I’m not saying it’s easy or I always pass with flying colors. In fact, it’s downright impossible to respond to sin with grace without divine help. That’s why God assures us His grace is always available to us through His Spirit’s work in our lives. He’s always faithful to provide the spiritual resources we need; we simply need to seek and receive them.
Again, sin does have consequences. Abounding in grace doesn’t mean I don’t punish bad behavior. But it means judgment isn’t my first reaction and grace governs me in taking the appropriate action.
Make Romans 5:20 the lens you look at your teenager through. They will sin . . . guaranteed! In many ways, you can’t control that. But you can control your response, and the best way to respond is by doing what God does—answer their sin with a greater grace.
The Grownup Years
By Pastor John Chinelly
What’s important when you hit your seventies? I can boil it down to one word: family! Over the years, I’ve made every effort to invest in the lives of my wife, children, sons-in-law, and grandchildren to the extent that I can now pick fruit daily off of branches that are loaded.
From emphasizing prayer with all my family members to setting the example of reading my Bible daily for the past 37 years, my life’s journey since I got saved has been about leaving a legacy of faith for my family and beyond. This includes taking on the role of spiritual dad and mentor by leading small groups in our home for 42 of our 55 years of marriage.
And the results of my investment and my desire to serve the Lord and honor Him have resulted in us being a very close family! From yearly family vacations to Sanibel Island since 1975 to almost daily visits from one of our kids or grandkids, our lives are now being poured into and enriched constantly by them; now we get to experience the blessing of our labor.
If I could offer you any counsel as a pastor and father for over 40 years, and a husband for over 50 years, it’s this: invest in your family. Things like money, fancy cars, big houses, status, and worldly success pass away; they never satisfy and always expire. But the love of your family and the blessing of doing life with your kids and grandkids is an investment that will never stop yielding fruit. It’s not too late for you to see this happen in your family, you can start your full investment today. Just be present, be intentional, and be the example of Christ for your family.
Dads, we hope these testimonies have encouraged you and empowered you in some way as you walk through your current season of fatherhood. We also hope it may serve to inspire future dads and those dads who perhaps haven’t been as present or engaged lately.