Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fatherhood from the Band of Brothers

I am becoming convinced that most of the problems in our world are caused by father’s not being godly fathers to their children. But I am also convinced that railing on fathers, casting blame, and degrading fathers for this is not the answer to the problem. The answer is to reach as many fathers as I can with the life-changing, and generational saving, good news of Jesus Christ.

Don Malarkey was strongly motivated to do what he did in World War II by his father. His father had a successful business in Astora, Oregon. Their family lived in upper middle-class comfort. But in the latter part of the 1930’s, the Great Depression finally caught up with the Malarkey’s and Don’s father lost the business, and then the house. Don’s dad then “checked out.” They moved into their vacation cabin in the woods (because they had lost their house) and Don’s dad sat in his chair and just stared. He rarely talked to anyone. The rest of the family had to take up the slack. Don’s dreams of a good school and career were tremendously altered. In December of 1941, they were changed forever when he enlisted in the Army and volunteered for paratrooper training.

At Camp Toccoa, Don met another man who also had a pretty drastic relationship with his own father. He made his son drop out of high school at age 15 and go to work in the mines. Because of this he was always embarrassed that he couldn’t speak well, write well, and was, in general, not well-educated like the other guys. However, he made up for it by being , in Don’s opinion, the best soldier in Easy Company.

These two men’s fathers negatively motivated them to do great things – no less than having an important part in saving the world from evil tyranny.

But I can’t help but wonder what these two men would have been like had they been positively effected by their fathers. What would they have been like if their relationship with their dads during their developmental years had been as God intended it to be? Because, you see, after they saved the world, they had a rough life for along time after. The discipline that they had in the army – what they really needed from their fathers, disappeared after they got out of the service. They were not exposed to what they needed as men long enough while in the army. Nor is the army a good substitute for a good father. It can certainly help, but it is much better for the army to build on the foundation that a good father lays in a child.

I’m not saying that these guys are bad. They are good men who have done extraordinary things. But a major lesson for us is the “what could have been” lesson. The army gave them the discipline and – for lack of a better word - “love” that their fathers should have given to them when they were younger. It changed them. But it still took longer for this change to be for the good for them.

When God our heavenly Father comes into our lives through Word and Sacrament our lives are changed, transformed. It is a change that lasts and grows and is good as we are nourished through continued use of Word and Sacrament. As we involve ourselves in a fellowship of believers, our hearts grow strong and our relationships with our spouses, our children, grow and will be instruments of transformation for many generations.

When most men become fathers, they want to be good fathers. But it is becoming increasingly rare that men know how to be good fathers. There is still an excellent example of good fatherhood for all men – God the Father Almighty. It is never too late to learn from our heavenly Father. It is never too late to come to Him. Your relationship with your earthly father may not have been all that good, but your relationship with your Heavenly Father can be – come to Him today! It will transform you and one of the transformations will be your own relationship with your children – for the good!

©2008 True Men Ministries.

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