For a long time now, I have questioned the validity and value of my own fatherhood. I have been so immersed in battling simply to survive, and I've lost so much, and that loss occurred during a critical time in my daughter's life. Now she is a teenager and I'm not nearly as cool as I used to be. I was homeless during the last of the days when she would have preferred to be with me.
This morning, I had picked her up from her friend's house and was taking her back to her mom's. We had the chance to talk about "stuff". The topic originated with the mom of a friend of hers who had passed away last year and who had been into some frightening occult practices. Ouija boards, crystals, etc. She was a self-described Wiccan. But at one point in her life, she had accepted Jesus as Savior and the change was tangible apparently. Morgan and I discussed whether she was in Heaven. (I believe in eternal security so I felt she was) The conversation moved to doctrine. Real doctrinal Theology stuff and I was amazed...blown away...by the level of understanding my 14 year old daughter possesses. We talked about the two Judgment Thrones in Revelation and about the definition of Hell. Whether the imagery was symbolism or literal. We arrived at the conclusion that it is some of both.
We talked for a while about the horror of hell and how this horror ought to have the resulting effect of making us desperately want to share our faith with others. Then she asked me a question that gave me hope. Hope that, despite the time we've missed together physically because of my situation, the time we were spending was effective. She said "Would it be..like a sin if I were a preacher?" I smiled and said "No way!" "The only restriction in the Bible is being a pastor. Paul is very clear about pastors and elders (deacons) but most other teaching options are open to women." The discussion ranged from whether Paul was misogynistic, to what it meant to "submit" to a husband. What the husband was supposed to act like in a submitted relationship, etc. Then she said..."You know that's why I want to be a missionary. I want to preach the Gospel to people. And I'd like to see foreign lands."
I was smiling of course. But I had to hide my tears too. For months...years even...I have been consumed with worry that my influence has not been substantial enough and I haven't had the spiritual effect on her I'd hoped. I haven't been able to take her to church like I used to. I haven't had nightly prayer times and Bible study with her like before. It's been so hard.
But I will tell you honestly...and at the risk of sounding self-aggrandizing...I have made up for the lack of influence, with my prayers for her. I have done battle for my daughter. I have stood my ground. I have covered her, by faith, in the blood of Jesus and asked that God's fiercest warrior angels be commissioned to her side for protection. I have asked God to do for her what my daddy's heart wants to do but can't. I have asked Him to keep her tender towards His promptings, to keep His voice clear in her ears and to guard her heart and let it be pure, and holy, and usable for His kingdom. I have asked this every single day, regardless of my situation. I asked Him to watch out for her. And He has.
My daughter has remained in love with Jesus. Beyond that, she has a working knowledge of the Word, and an understanding of the essentials of this Faith of ours.
God has granted my requests...thus far at least. I can't let up or relax, because the enemy of our souls will pounce. It brings me comfort to know God loves my daughter even more than I do.
Dads...the road is long for us. There are so many hours when we wrestle in the dark with foes our children don't even realize are waging war against them. The days seem endless between visits and we wonder if being there and being involved and remaining true was worth it. But remain vigilant. Stay strong. Do the work of a dad, on your knees, and in the loving words you speak into their hearts. Because you might be raising a missionary with a tremendous grasp of The Faith and you might not even realize it.
Phil 1:6 tells us- "Being confident of this...that He who began a good work in you will keep doing that work until the return of Jesus." (My paraphrase). That promise is for you and for your children and for your fatherhood. Keep doing the work. God will keep His end of the bargain.
Have a great week, dads.