In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. –Proverbs 14:26
When God’s Word and it’s thrust toward discipleship of your family comes into focus, pain immediately sets in. I mean to say it is an urgency. A desperate desire.
As a father and husband I am called to disciple my wife and my children. This is perfectly clear in Scripture. This pain I’m describing is something not suitable for words. I have a deep, unexplainable longing for the best for my wife and child. Not my best. God’s best. The conviction is this: no one else is called to do what I am – only I can fulfill this calling in their lives. I am called to show them God’s best. I say it is no one else’s calling because I am their spiritual leader. My wife is married to only me. I am the only father of my child. The responsibility rests solely on my shoulders to do this, by the power of the gospel. And if I do it, it will be as a result of me loving God in such a way that they can experience His best.
But it is not my own self doing this thing. My flesh would love to outsource this discipleship (as many people think) to the local church or some other “professional”. That is not God’s design. Too many have chosen to outsource discipleship of their family. That is not Scriptural. I have a calling placed on my life as a dad to mold and make a grown woman and growing child, through the leadership and work of the Holy Spirit, to be satisfied in God. Not in what He does for us, but in who He is. My flesh is satisfied in His blessings but the God in me is only satisfied in Himself. Rightfully so.
The pain of fatherhood, to me, is so wanting to see God move in my family that the only alleviation is surrender. Only the killing of my own idols can make way for the true worship of God for my family. Even then the depths of what He can accomplish are not even being tasted. This pain I have is to see them become true God-worshipers. A desire so deeply rooted that it’s urgent and uncomfortable until it’s manifested in response to God’s grace. The question is not of His faithfulness to do it, but of my response to the pain of fatherhood.
Although I’m not a thief and a dog was NOT chasing me at the time…I recently completed my first marathon. For those of you not familiar with the sport of running, a marathon consists of putting your body through months and months of grueling, torturous training to prepare for a 26.2 mile trek on asphalt.
The toll on your body during the race is unbelievable. It’s as much psychological as it is physical. At one point late in the race I was surrounded by runners who were walking, sitting on the curb and some were barely holding themselves upright. My mind began to think, “Is that about to be me?” and “Am I about to ‘hit the wall?'”. Just the thought and anticipation of what could be really started weighing on me. This feeling came after mile 19 or 20. I was in strict survival mode physically and mentally. I didn’t care about pace or time…I just wanted to see the finish line! A Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted me as I approached it. They had been at about 6 or 7 other places on the race route holding signs for the runners containing crude humor. So needless to say I was concerned as I approached them during the last 50 meters. Mrs. Claus had a nice dress on but Santa was robed in a red, skin-tight body suit. This made for an interesting home stretch but needless to say the feeling when I crossed the finish line was indescribable.
There is one thing I know about this sport after running consistently for 2 and half years now: your body doesn’t like you imposing your will on it. That’s just the way it is. I’ve come to the conclusion that our bodies naturally don’t want to fulfill physical goals, even the simplest of ones. Now a running a marathon is not simple by any means, but I was amazed at how once I had a plan in place and a goal in mind, the rest fell into place. The key to everything was this: Stick to the plan. Once I had a mind to do it, I did it. I wish I could tell you that it was more complex than that, but it wasn’t. I decided that, Lord willing, I would pursue and accomplish this physical goal I had for myself. I don’t really have much time to run, but I made time. It was important to me. We tend to make time for the things we really care about.
With that said, I can’t tell you how many lessons I learned as a result of the training and the marathon itself. That will be a post for another day. Now that I’ve accomplished my goal I’m almost lost. What now? I am in the process of setting a new goal for this coming year. While I’ve been battering my body into shape I am totally convinced of my personal need to beat down and eliminate the spiritual fat and laziness in my own life. Running has opened my eyes to this in such a real way. Now I’m asking myself: “Am I as dedicated to the spiritual fitness of myself and others?”.