Originator. Creator. Founder. Instructor. Provider. And though the list could go on, these are but a few nouns that come to mind when I hear the word, FATHER. For anyone who’s interested, ‘father’ just happens to be the first word listed in the Hebrew dictionary … ‘ab’ (pronounced, awb) –imagine that! My guess is that it has to do with the familial order established by God the Father, during creation week. Father, Man, then Husband–each role personifying the loving and protective nature(s) of our Creator.
Biologically-speaking, we know that fathers submit genetic instructions via DNA and they also possess the innate power to influence gender by simply releasing an X or Y chromosome. But, existentially-speaking, true fathering is so much more than the substance of heredity. For it is the father whom God charged with imparting wisdom and confidence along with a sense of safety and direction to his children. Proverbs 4:1 begins by asserting, Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding (NIV). Essentially, true fathering supplies the very framework to build and support all human life.
Bear with me as I switch gears for a moment to point out how blended families represent an astounding percentage of our society; I recently discovered through the Stepfamily Association of America, that more than half of Americans today have been, are now or will eventually be in one or more step (family) situations during their lives (Larson, 1992). I believe that good fathers and particularly, good stepfathers do exist but are too seldom spotlighted or openly celebrated for their commitment or love and guidance poured into the life of a child that isn’t theirs naturally. But, even in the matter of blended families, however, what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun–Ecclesiastes 1:9 (Holman Christian Standard) and even step-parenting is nothing new.
The most venerated example of a stepfather to date is Joseph, the man assigned to serve as the earthly father to Jesus Christ. During what we would consider today a their engagement period, Joseph discovers Mary is going to have a baby–and he knew he had never been intimate with her. A simple man in love, Joseph wasn’t up for scandal or public scrutiny and initially decided he would break his engagement to Mary in secrecy. Assuming Mary’s condition was evidence of her unfaithfulness, Joseph–by law–was well within his rights to break it off. But, here’s the catch, if you will; Joseph, a man with true heart and dedication, had been hand-picked, chosen just as Mary had been, to be a catalyst for ushering in the new covenant God would have with His people. The Greek definition of chosen (eklektos) is to be elected, favored, preferred. That’s a powerful testament to the immense integrity of Joseph’s character and how much he had apparently impressed the heart of God.
Enlightened by an angel as he slept, Joseph was given the details concerning Mary and was dissuaded from jumping ship (Matthew 1:18-25). Armed with spiritual insight and an affinity toward both his woman and his God, Joseph protected Mary, her reputation and our unborn Savior. Joseph gallantly embraced his calling as a father long before he held a baby in his arms. He made sacrificial provisions to ensure Mary’s well-being and in all this, Joseph’s role remains a pivotal one in aiding the delivery of God’s promise into the earth. He was the kind of stepfather that we unfortunately don’t hear much about today in blended family accounts and the same kind that even many biological fathers should take note to emulate.
For those fathers who hold up the banner of manhood and Godliness before the ever-watchful eyes of their children (natural or not) and to those who wish they could but for many reasons cannot, I wish you a blessed Father’s Day. You are indeed, to God, the aroma of Christ–the very fragrance of life (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Copyrighted May 2006 Dr. Vivi Monroe Congress