Summary: Fathers today, like Jacob, have been irresponsible; but, like him also, we can see that God is giving us another chance to redeem our relationships with our children, to allow Him to keep His promises, and to use major resources for Kingdom business.
This past Monday was our son-in-law’s birthday. We’ve cared about this young man for a long time, but now he’s even more special. He is our granddaughter Olivia’s father. And that makes him extra special. So we sent Don a birthday card and a little gift, and got an email response. In part, it reads, “Family is more important to me than I could ever describe. Out of necessity I have become the … glue that binds … my mom and dad and extended family. While I sometimes wish that I did not have to take the lead so often, I take comfort in knowing that God has seen fit to anoint me as the guardian of my mother, brother, and father. God has also seen to it that I have had teachers available to me so that I can further evolve into the man I want to be.”
Don then goes on to say some nice things about how the Lord gave him his in-laws as teachers. I’ll omit what he said about yours truly, but I do have to quote him when he says that when he wants to know where his wife and infant daughter get their independent streak, he need look no further than … well, you know who!
When a young man today speaks about the importance of family, I get excited. When he sees himself as glue that binds his family together, I get more than excited. I feel overjoyed! Now when he says that sometimes he wishes he did not have to take the lead quite so often, well, I understand, but I know it’ll be all right. It’ll be all right because he knows that his place comes from God and that God will equip him. When I hear all of that, I can’t ask for more. There’s a young man on the right track.
And as for being one of his teachers, I don’t know. I’d like to be worthy of that. I’m afraid I have to confess that, like a lot of men and fathers, I was not always so good at leading. Sometimes I was better at leaving. Better at waiting instead of wading in. Better at sitting back instead of stepping forward.
What the world needs now, what families need now, is men who will step up, assume leadership, get with the program, and do what’s right. What the world needs now is men who, without hesitation, with the Lord on their side, will do the responsible thing. Even when it seems too little too late, just do it.
Time and again I come back to the Genesis stories about Jacob. That old scoundrel helps me, because he messed up in more ways than most of us can even think of. And yet God stayed with Jacob, God prodded Jacob, God gave Jacob a second chance. God stayed with Jacob until Jacob finally got it right. But Jacob surely did mess up, big time, on the way.
You know the story. I don’t have to fill in all the details. But I might remind you that Jacob started out, from infancy, trying to get by on the cheap. They say that when he and his twin brother Esau were born, Jacob came out hanging on to his brother’s heel, getting a free ride from Day One! As the boys grew up, Esau went out and did the hunting and the farming, but Jacob sat around, enjoying his air-conditioned tent. Even as a boy his get-up-and-go got up and went! Jacob, irresponsible from the start.
And do I need to remind you of Jacob finagling his hungry brother into paying a very high price for one little old bowl of stew? Of Jacob, tricking his poor, blind father into giving him Esau’s inheritance? Do you need to hear of Jacob, the original mama’s boy, scooting off into the hills when he could no longer hide behind his mother’s skirts? Do I need to remind you of Jacob, cheating his own uncle out of most of his wealth; of Jacob, marrying two sisters, but treating one of them like trash? Jacob was a mess. He was irresponsible, lazy, hopeless. I think the street word is “triflin’”. If your daughter had brought Jacob home from college, you would have taken her aside for a heart to heart talk; he was just “triflin’”.
And if some of the sisters here today are inclined to remark, “Just like a man. I’ve seen his kind”, guess what?! I will agree with you! Too many of us are like Jacob. Too many men, husbands and fathers, have tried to get by on the cheap. Too many of us have hoped that our tasks would get done by somebody else. Too many of us have been Jacobs.