Encourage your family to do all they can to make Father’s Day a special day. As a father, it always warmed my heart when my kids went out of their way to make me feel loved and appreciated on this day. I still have some of the cards they made for me when they were young.
Not all children are able to celebrate Father’s Day the way they want. Some can’t because they have lost their dads through death or family separation, and some can’t because they were abandoned by their dads. In respect to those who have been abandoned, I share with you a story that brings an important truth about God and His alternate plans when things like this happen. It is a story that would be good to share as a Teachable Moment with your kids at the end of a Father’s Day since it deals with a son and his father.
A number of years ago, when I was a youth pastor in the Bay area of California, I had the opportunity to minister to many young people from varying backgrounds. Not all of my high school students came from well-adjusted homes; some grew up in broken homes where the father had abandoned the family.
Ted was one of those high school students in my youth group who was abandoned by his father, and seemingly, couldn’t get over it. His dad’s desertion caused Ted to continually struggle, even though God supplied him with loving adoptive parents and many faithful friends in the youth group. For Ted, this alternative, God’s “Plan B” so to speak, didn’t work well for him, because he wanted his actual father to be his father in life. But that wasn’t possible, only God’s “Plan B” was, which meant Ted had to accept the Lord’s provisions in regard to a father’s love. Fortunately for Ted, as with all of us, God was very patient, understanding, and loving with him as he worked through his hurt.
Perhaps, the greatest example of a “Plan B” in the Bible was in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned against God. Before they did, they were under God’s first perfect “Plan A”, which was a life full of peace, joy, security, love, and every other positive description of which you can think. (Genesis 2:8-10,) But after they sinned, their perfect life was over. Had God not stepped in with a “Plan B”, they, along with the rest of mankind, would have perished right then and there. When God stepped in, His plan was very costly, for it demanded the sacrifice of Jesus the Son to pay for what Adam and Eve did, as well as the rest of mankind who inherited their sin. (Romans 5:14-16) Still, God’s plan worked, because everyone who repented and believed found a bridge back to God. (I Corinthians 6:20; Matthew 20:28; I Timothy 2:5-6)
…If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Ted had given his life to Christ but hadn’t accepted God’s “Plan B” concerning his father, that is, until a memorable youth trip. During this trip to Yosemite on a spring weekend, God spoke to Ted in an incredible way that completely changed his thinking about his dad and God.
On this trip, I took about 150 high school students from church to build better relationships between them as well as bolster their faith. In preparation for the Saturday morning devotion, I gathered them together for a time of worshipful singing near Yosemite falls. After we finished singing, I instructed each to find a separate place in the meadow to have a quiet devotion. Before they took off to do this, I asked them to read one of the Psalms and be prepared to share what they had learned from it when they returned. I also suggested that when they picked a particular Psalm, they choose one nearest their birthdays. For example, February 7th might end up being Psalm 2:7 or the 27th Psalm, because February was the second month of the year, and seven was the seventh day of that month.
After about forty-five minutes, the kids began making their way back to our gathering. The sharing was very rich as each student had a lot to say, but Ted’s comments spoke the loudest that day. When he got up to speak, He said at first that he had no intention of reading any Psalm, because his heart was bitter about his dad that day. Although after a few minutes of sitting underneath a huge tree and looking up at the falls, curiosity got the best of him, and he began searching out the Psalm that matched his birthday. After he found and read it, he read it again and again with great intensity. After he finished reading it for the last time, Ted told us that tears began to well up within him, for, as far as he was concerned, God had spoken to him about his father. Of course, we all wanted to know what Psalm Ted read. After holding back for a minute or so, Ted told us it was Psalm 2:7, which read, “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord; He said to Me, You are my Son, today I have begotten You.” When reading those words, Ted said that he felt the Spirit of God within him saying, “You are my son Ted, and I am your father; I will never abandon you, no matter what.”
As we listened to Ted talk some more, we could all see a growing calm come over his face and spirit as never before. This calm lasted throughout the weekend and long after returning home from Yosemite, because he had finally accepted God’s “Plan B” in his life.
Lastly, in respect to Ted and that weekend, I would say this was the best Father’s Day he ever had, only to be surpassed by the Father’s Days his own children might give him in the future.
To help your children remember God’s resolve to make alternate plans for us when life breaks down, take them to a nearby park where there is a creek, pond, or river running through it. Pick one, if possible, that has at least two ways to get across the water to the other side. If you don’t have such a park near you, you will have to do some adjusting and pretending. In Boise where I live now I have a very good situation for this illustration, in that the main bridge crossing the Boise River was recently under construction. The only way to get across was to go down stream to an alternate bridge. Even though it was a little inconvenient, it got me across which was all that counted.
Regardless of how close you can come for this kind of set up, just make sure you have at least two ways or bridges to get across the water with your kids, one that is blocked and one that isn’t. As you take the second, which is not blocked, draw two parallels with your kids in respect to what was taught in this article. The first is with Adam and Eve who lived a perfect life in the Garden until they sinned. When they did, it was like blowing up their bridge to God. But because God is unfathomable in His grace, He created a second bridge to Him by sacrificing Jesus the Son on the cross. Then emphasize to your children that in order to use this second bridge, repenting of sin and believing in Christ was the toll price necessary to get on the bridge.
In a second parallel, compare the first blocked or destroyed bridge to something you had hoped for in your own life, but didn’t get. Then, take the alternate bridge or path you and your children took, and compare it to God always providing another way for you no matter what happens to the first. As He has done that for you, so He will do it for them.
Finally, for fun, have your children pick a Psalm close to their birthday. See if there might be a personal lesson in it for them from God. If not, then just end with Ted’s story if you haven’t read it to them already.
The following verses referenced in this chapter can be found in sequence on my web site. (www.tmoments.com/book/resources)
Genesis 2:8-10; Romans 5:14-16; I Corinthians 6:20; Matthew 20:28; I Timothy 2:5-6