BRADY COLUMN: Fatherhood: Gift or Accident?

Published 9:30 am Saturday, June 18, 2022

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I once watched a television movie called “See You in My Dreams.” It was about a rancher who was overwhelmed by his problems. He was not a good role model in any sense of the word. He drank excessively, was violent and overly stubborn and finally drove his wife and son away from home. And he never changed. Even though he loved his wife and son, for him, fatherhood was an accident. On the other hand, a man tells an interesting experience from his youth. He said that when he was around 13 and his brother was 10 that his father had promised to take them to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgency required his father’s attention downtown. So he and his brother braced themselves for the disappointment. Then he said he heard his father say. “I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.”  When this father returned to the table, his mother smiled, “The circus keeps coming back you know. “Yes, I know,” said the father, “but childhood doesn’t.” Undoubtedly, the man telling this story saw his father as a gift. God had sent Elijah to a strange land to stay with a widow and her son, the widow’s son up and died. Elijah took the dead child in his arms and took him up to his room. There he earnestly interceded to God on behalf of the child. Soon thereafter, Elijah came out of the room with a restored child in his arms. Upon presenting the child to his mother, the widow said to Elijah, “Now, I know that you are a man of God.” Stating it another way the widow. said, “Now, I know that you are ‘a gift of God.’” Fathers, mothers, grandparents and other adult readers, what can we learn from Elijah?

First, fatherhood is a gift when family life is prioritized! Elijah was sensitive to the widow and her plight and prioritized the situation. Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, said he remembered being on the podium celebrating his team’s 2OO7 Super Bowl victory. As he stood there in the middle of all that noise and confetti, he thought about all the people who helped him along the way. Probably more often than anyone else, he thought about his dad. He had learned so many lessons from his dad. And then Dungy said, “I know how blessed I was to have had a father like that.”

Second, fatherhood is a gift when a close relationship with God exists! We are told that Elijah earnestly prayed for the widow’s son and that God heard and answered his prayer. Through Elijah’s prayer, the child was restored to life. So often, through a father’s faith, a child experiences life. I have a friend who shared with me why he never really got involved with the church during his earlier life. He said that when he was a little boy his dad took him to a big church, dropped him off at the curb and said he would pick him up in an hour. The friend said he was small and frightened and didn’t know where to go or what to do. How much better it would have been if that friend’s father had gone to church with him that morning out of his father’s close relationship with God.

Third, fatherhood is a gift when love is expressed! Elijah put compassion into action It’s true that “everybody gots a father,” as the little girl said in class so many years ago. But there are fathers and there are fathers. How true! The fathers who are gifts to their families always put their compassion into action. They love their families as Christ loved the church.

Fourth, fatherhood is a gift when honorability is the hallmark! The only way a father can truly honor his family is to be honorable himself! Tony Dungy stated that our calling as dads is to be uncommon. While everybody else is running around trying to figure out how to get ahead in worldly status and success, we ought to keep playing a different game. As Dungy put it, “We ought to be uncommon.” Fatherhood-gift or accident? It’s intended to be a gift, but what it will be in entirely up to us-dads, husbands and granddads.