Father of the Fatherless

-an article for the June 2002 Deep Cove Crier

Imagine a world in which all dads were suddenly removed from the face of the earth.  What would be missing?  In a nutshell, we would be missing a lot of ‘player coaches’.  Dads at their best love to root for their kids, to cheer them on, to give them tips.  Dads are natural coaches.  But dads are also player coaches.  Dads at their best love to play.  Most dads at heart are over-grown kids who wish that they were back on their childhood baseball diamond, soccer field or hockey rink.  Having kids of one’s own is the perfect excuse to cut loose from adult pressures and reconnect with what really matters.  Father’s Day is a unique opportunity to say to countless millions of dads: ‘We need you, we appreciate you, and we value your contribution to making our lives a better place’.

I am deeply grateful that family matters so much to my own father.  He invested in me in countless ways that I am just discovering forty years later.  While I loved my father, I took so much of his generosity for granted.  It is only as I invest in my three boys with my time, talent, and treasure, that I understand what an enormous commitment it is to be a caring father.  Commitment is a scary thing.  Family and marriage require from us Dads 110% and more.  I am so grateful that my father never ran from my family.  One of the greatest gifts that my Dad could ever give me is that he is still in love with my Mom.

The longer I live, the more grateful I am for my father.  He has always cheered for me when I have faced life’s obstacles.  As I look at my father, I see confidence, competence, and creativity.  My father never lets anything stop him in his tracks.  Whether he works on his computer or in his workshop, he never lets failure discourage him.  He just tries and tries again, always experimenting with a slightly different technique.  My Dad’s willingness to keep on learning has kept him young at heart.  I pray that in the years ahead that I too may remain teachable, flexible, and willing to take risks.

When a prison chaplain once offered free Mother’s Day cards to inmates, they were all snapped up in minutes.  But when he offered free Father’s Day cards, there were few takers.  Sadly many young men and women today have grown up with little or no experience of a father’s love.  There is often no ‘player coach’ in their lives.  More than ever before, our youth are a fatherless generation.  So much crime, violence, drug usage, and promiscuity flows directly out of the pain of fatherlessness.

One counselor said that fathers are meant to be the ‘halfway house’ between childhood and adulthood.  As Dads bless their teenage sons and daughters, they empower them to be courageous and yet wise, bold and yet discerning.  Without the father’s blessing, many teens feel unwanted, uncared for, and unaffirmed.  This can be equally true for single parent families and workaholic two-parent families.  The tragedy is that fatherlessness so often carries on generation after generation.

This Father’s Day our hearts need to go wide open towards the fatherless.  As the good book tells us, God is the father of the fatherless, the defender of widows and orphans (Psalm 68).  God is turning the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the children back to their fathers (Malachi 4:6).  This Father’s Day, my prayer is that each of us would experience the Father’s heart of love for his lost sons and daughters.  The Father loves you more than your wildest imagination.  The Father is cheering for you to make the best of your life.  The Father wants to wrap you in his loving arms.  Happy Father’s Day!

The Reverend Ed Hird, Rector, St. Simon’s Anglican Church

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North Vancouver, B.C.