However, we had a guest speaker Sunday who delivered a very insightful message to me personally. No, the message wasn't specifically for me, but the whole 'if the shoe fits' cliche was bouncing right off my forehead...please excuse the mixed metaphor.
In a summarized version, the speaker was trying to point out to fathers that they have a spiritual influence over their families that reaches far past just their children. A father not only influences his children and grandchildren directly in matters pertaining to their spiritual life, he also has an indirect influence on the great-grandchildren as well as the great-great-grandchildren. The passing of godly influence from generation to generation forms a continuous chain of influence that is anchored by God Himself...in the ideal situation of course.
But what happens if the chain is broken? What happens when a father messes up, or worse yet, turns away from a close relationship with God? It was about here in the sermon the proverbial shoe busted me in the forehead. Have I been the cause of the spiritual chain being broken in my family? If so, how do I fix it?
The sermon took us to the story of David, Solomon and Rehoboam and a popular sermon on the Chairs of Faith. In the lesson, there are three chairs of faith- commitment, compromise and condemned. David, being described as a man after God's own heart, sat in the Chair of Commitment. Solomon was far to comfortable in the Chair of Compromise while his son, Rehoboam, never progressed from the last seat, the Chair of Condemned.
King David had it all and nearly lost it. After he committed the terrible sins of adultery and murder, David repents and ask God for mercy and forgiveness. His throne passes to Solomon who God had bestowed wisdom. But Solomon couldn't follow God's directions, and his compromise leads to God tearing Solomon's kingdom in two under the incompetent rule of his son Rehoboam, who completely abandoned God and the ways of his grandfather.
David didn't break the chain despite his sins. Solomon broke the chain because he refused to move from the Chair of Compromise into the Chair of Commitment. Rehoboam never left the Chair of Condemned.
The Chair of Compromise can become far to comfortable for Christians unfortunately. Part of that rest in the fact we are often slow to let go of our past transgressions and seek God's forgiveness through repentance. I think this is especially true for fathers that are charged to be the spiritual lead of the family. Too many times, a father messes up and feels his testimony is forever damaged and he is no longer useful to God, so he continues to drift away as if it possible to run from judgment.
That's when the second shoe hit me...
God gets all the glory when we mess up and repent, because at some point, we are all in that Chair of Compromise...if but only for a moment. Admitting mistakes is a particularly difficult task for most men, especially fathers. It demonstrates weakness, and that's a trait we don't want on display for our wives and children. But in the presence of God, we are weak and we do depend on Him for the most basic of needs. What better way to demonstrate to our families the love and mercy of our Father than to openly admit our weakness in relation to God, and confirm our place in the Chair of Commitment by surrendering to His mercy.
Guys, that might mean admitting when we are wrong to our families and apologizing. Ouch. That's when you scoot forward and sit on the leading edge of the Chair of Commitment...the part made from the Wood of Humility. It might not be the most comfortable position but sure beats changing chairs and breaking that chain.
May God bless our fathers with guidance and strength.