On April 27th, 2006, at the age of 25, I became a dad for the first time to a beautiful baby girl. Men talk about everything they felt in the moment their first child was born. They speak of the overwhelming joy, how nervous they were, the new feeling of being delicate, and how their life changed that day. However, I did not have not have this same reaction,
because I was not even there. In fact, I did not even meet or hold my daughter for the first time until she was a week old, which was only out of necessity to work out the logistics of parenting separately with her mother.
Thankfully, since then, I accepted the Lord as my Savior. He completely redeemed the situation, her mother and I married, and Sarah and I have since been blessed with three more amazing children. As Father’s Day approaches, I understand it was created as an avenue to honor fathers. It is a great opportunity to thank and remember those fathers in our lives. However, when I think about Father’s Day in terms of myself, it is easy to focus on how far I have come as a dad and how much more deserving I am now to receive praise on this day. Although I may be trying harder and sacrifice more than I used to, as I reflect on being a dad for over 11 years, it still does not compare to our perfect Father in heaven. While this is humbling, a new perspective has become clearer in my role as a father.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
Let that sink in. Children are a heritage (gift), from the Lord. Our own Father in heaven loves us so much, that even though we are undeserving to receive anything from Him, He still blesses us with these gifts, our children. In The Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Children are a heritage which Jehovah himself must give, or a man will die childless, and thus his house will be unbuilt. And the fruit of the womb is his reward, or a reward from God. He gives children, not as a penalty nor as a burden, but as a favour. They are a token for good if men know how to receive them, and educate them.”
By this truth, every bit of me should be honored to be a dad and want to honor Him by how I raise my kids. On the day my firstborn came in to this world, I was not in a place to even accept this gift and definitely was not honored by it. Unfortunately, I think a lot of fathers find themselves in this place. We can neglect that weight of what we have been given and can parent out of necessity, burden, weakness, and regret. In addition, today’s culture, social media, friends, family, and sometimes the church, focus more on the outwardly achievements of parenting which feed self-serving agendas that would rather seek praise and honor from our friends and people we don’t even know, rather than glorifying the Lord in our stewardship of these precious gifts.
Don’t get me wrong, being a dad is not easy and can be very burdensome to balance all aspects of life while trying to fulfill the many exhortations of the Bible including “not provoking our children to wrath” (Ephesians 6:4), “Training them up in the way they should go,” (Proverbs 22:6), and “teaching them the commandments of the Lord, diligently (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Rest assured, when we can be fathers who are Spirit-filled and honored to have these gifts, the things which the Lord commands us will naturally flow into our parenting.
We have such little time to hold tight to our kids and to honor the Lord with that time. Charles Spurgeon continues, “What wonders a good man can accomplish if he has affectionate children to second his desires, and lend themselves to his designs! To this end we must have our children in hand while they are yet children, or they are never likely to be so when they are grown up; and we must try to point them and straighten them, so as to make arrows of them in their youth, lest they should prove crooked and unserviceable in after life. Let the Lord favour us with loyal, obedient, affectionate offspring, and we shall find in them our best helpers. We shall see them shot forth into life to our comfort and delight, if we take care from the very beginning that they are directed to the right point.”
I have made many mistakes as a dad…I have failed my kids, overreacted, and have been selfish, sometimes all in one day. What hasn’t changed though, is the love I see in those big brown eyes of all four of our kids when they look at me, each one representing a gift from our loving Father, and for that, I am honored.
By: Aaron Russler
Aaron serves on the men’s ministry board and oversees the Young Adults ministry with his wife, Sarah, at Reliance Church.