The perspective from the top of a mountain is quite different from the hike up the mountain. My husband and I have experienced this many times, and it’s always worth enduring the climb to enjoy a view from the heights. Of course, the hike itself is enjoyable too, but legs get tired, more water would be nice, and the rocks on the side of the trail look inviting for a break. But, reaching the top is a beautiful gift.
The same can be said of parenting. It can feel like an exhausting climb, but it’s worth it.
I’ve written a few blog posts about parenting, but I’ve never really considered what the Bible has to say about fathering. Probably because I’m not a father.
So I looked it up, and what do you think I found? Many things, of course, starting with God as our perfect heavenly Father, but that would take too long to detail. More down to earth, we learn a few things about father’s mistakes as we read of Old Testament figures, like Jacob and David. The New Testament’s more didactic comments are not to exasperate children, don’t embitter children , and to discipline them and earn their respect. but I noticed a verse this week that seems to sum up what we look for in a father.
For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 NIV
This was probably written a year or two after Paul, Silas and Timothy visited Thessalonica, and Paul was reminding the church of the fatherly support they had experienced. Apparently, they dealt with individuals with as much love and care as a father would his own children, showing encouragement, comfort and appropriate exhortation.
These qualities are better seen from a perspective removed from the daily grind of parenting.
My dad, who will be 90 years old in a couple weeks, is an encourager. He thinks positively and believes that his kids can do anything they put their minds to. Perhaps he is a bit unrealistic, but it was tremendously valuable to grow up with a father who always believed in me. When it comes to comfort, I think of my mom. She is a comforter and the one who I’d go to if I needed some honesty and compassion. She also prays for all of her “kids” (not only her biological children – she’s added a bunch) regularly. They are a good team. My parents didn’t overtly urge us to live worthy of God, but they set an example of two people who were, and still are, honoring God. I picked up their implicit message.
When I was in my teens, I didn’t recognize or appreciate those qualities in my parents. I was a typical selfish teenager. As I raised my own children, I don’t remember consciously urging my children to live lives worthy of God – there were always more urgent things to deal with. Now that the details of daily living as a teenager and as a busy parent are behind me, I can see my parents’ character traits of encouragement, comfort and their implicit urging like the scene from the top of a mountain on a clear day.
Thank you, Dad, for being a constant encourager. Thank you, Mom, for your prayers and for being a devoted comforter. Thank you both for modeling of a life worthy of God.