“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?” John 3:9-10
About two years ago, I read an article about some young male elephants in an African game park. In human terms, we would call these elephants adolescents—teenagers. Now the article zeroed in on the fact that these adolescents had gone nuts. They were doing some very un-elephanty stuff. They’d been ripping at the rhinos and trashing and trampling the tourists.
It took a while, but park officials thought they finally figured out why these elephants had run amuck: As newborns, these elephants had been taken from a game park where they had been at risk and transferred to a new park. This park was supposed to provide everything an elephant could ever want. It was a pachyderm’s perfect paradise—except for one problem. The father elephants had not been brought along. These young male elephants had grown up without a model of how a bull elephant should behave.
Spiritually, the same can be said for many children. They have all their hearts desire, but they’re growing up without any spiritual example. Are you among those who think being a good father is teaching your children how to use a hammer and saw, how to wield a gun and clean a deer? God says you should know that’s not enough to be the kind of father He wants. The greatest opportunity God gives parents is to have them teach their children how much God loves them.
In the Old Testament, the Lord was very clear. He said, “These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up ” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). In the New Testament, a similar word of encouragement is given. The Lord says, “Fathers … bring [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). From their parents, children need to hear of a Savior whose hands are gentle enough to pick them up in blessing and strong enough to carry a cross to Calvary. Our children ought to know, and we should be the ones to tell them, that Jesus loved them enough to be crucified for them without complaint. In word and action, we need to tell our children of God’s great love. Nothing we can ever do will be more important.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on June 15, 2003: Father’s Day
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me as Your child. Please give all parents the wisdom to tell their children of God's great love. I rejoice that I have a Savior whose hands are gentle enough to pick me up in blessing and strong enough to carry a cross to Calvary. Amen.