Summary: A message for Asian fathers and their children to ’turn their hearts toward one another’ and develop an emotional bond between them.
Evangelical Formosan Church of Alhambra
Today I would like to speak on the topic of fathers and their children. I haven’t been a father for very long, so I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject. But I have learned from many godly men who have been fathers for many, many years. And I know exactly what it feels like to be the child of a father - especially a child raised in America by parents who were raised in Taiwan.
Let’s commit this time to the Lord in prayer.
Psychologists say that there are five major points in a man’s life. The first point is when a man turns 21, and he begins to ask himself the question of ‘What makes a man?’, or ‘What does it mean to be a man?’. The second point in a man’s life is when he gets married, and he asks the question of ‘How does a husband treat a wife?’, or ‘What does it take to be a husband?’. The third point in a man’s life is when he first becomes a father, and he asks the question of ‘What does it mean to be a father?’. The fourth point in a man’s life is when his own father passes away, and he is faced with the finality of the situation. If he had a good relationship with his father, than it’s great. But if he did not have a good relationship with his father, then there is nothing he can do about it. The fifth point is when a man faces mid-life.
I myself experienced the third point about five months ago. I have often thought about how I should be a father, or what a father should look like. One evening, I was at home with my baby son. He was only about a month old, so he slept a lot. He was sleeping on our bed with his face to one side, and I was lying on my stomach next to him, with my face turned towards him.
As I looked into his sleeping face, I started thinking about what it means to be a father, and images of my own father came into my mind: father sitting in front of the television, father pacing in the living room of hallway, father sitting at the dinner table and eating, father sitting in the car - driving us somewhere. As I thought about these images, one common theme came into my mind - that my father was always silent. He was very busy, and very often would not be able to be around us physically. But even when he was present physically, he always seemed to be very distant.
As I lay there, I started to feel a warm tickling sensation on my face. I then realized that the sensation were my tears. I was weeping for the distance that always seemed to separate my father and I - grieving the lack of an emotional connection with him. Is my father a bad person? No. He was a generally a good person. He was a Christian, and even a deacon at my church. But we just weren’t very close.
But this is not an unusual situation. I have been to many different churches in many different areas. Among the Asian families I have had contact with, it is a very common thing for children raised in the United States to feel distant towards their fathers who were raised overseas. Many of the parents of the teenagers in my church would tell me the same thing. It is an extremely rare thing to see a father who was raised overseas to have a close relationship, an emotional bond with children raised in the United States - especially during the teenage years and beyond.
If you are raised in the United States, do you feel emotionally distant towards your father? Does he seem absent? Does he seem distant, or emotionally unavailable? Does he seem judgmental, critical, with high expectations? Maybe there is some bitterness in your heart.
If you were raised overseas, do you feel emotionally distant towards your children? Do they seem ungrateful to you? Do they seem unresponsive to you? Do they seem rebellious?
What should we do?
(Turn to Malachi chapter 4.)
Exposition of Malachi chapter 4
Malachi was the last of the Old Testament Prophets. He lived after the Babylonian captivity, after the temple had been rebuilt and worship restored. But he found the people to be backsliding again. Through this prophet, God calls His people to repent and to come back to Him - or else he will intervene again.
But you might ask, ‘what does this have to do with fathers and their children?’. Please be patient and let me explain, and then you will understand the connection.