A Tale of Four Father\'s

A Tale of Four Father’s

“The Proverbs of Solomon: A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.”

Proverbs 10:1

Culture and generational wars are nothing new as they have existed since the fall of man so it’s no wonder that God made honoring our Father and Mother the fourth commandment. The book of Proverbs teaches us that good parents are constantly instructing their children with the hope of helping them avoid foolish mistakes. I can’t even recall the number of times my own father would say to me, “Michael, you don’t have to make every mistake on your own, you can learn from mine.” His hope was that by listening to him I would avoid a lot of self inflicted pain in life. I wish I would have listened more. I can relate to the words expressed by Mark Twain, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Stephen in Acts chapter 7 reminds the religious leaders of his day that they had failed to learn the lesson of history that their ancestors had passed on going all the way back to Father Abraham. These lessons are timeless truths that not only would every father do well in faithfully modeling and passing down to his children but every mother should pass along to her daughters too. Everyone of us can benefit from what the generations gone before us have learned, the good, the hard lessons. The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

In Acts 7 Stephen shares the details of four of the greatest and most respected men in Israel’s history with whom God raised up to lead His people. Each of their lives leaves us a legacy to learn and follow. First there was Abraham whose life is a portrait of faith and courage and risk. To please God it requires faith and more times than not the road is hard. You recall, Abraham left everything behind to lay hold of the promises of God. Next, Stephen points the jewish leaders back to Joseph, the great grandson of Abraham who was sold into slavery and thought to be dead by his father. Joesph’s life teaches us that life doesn’t always go the way we would hope but that doesn’t mean God is not working in and through everything. It’s why we need to get back up when life knocks us down. Our children need to learn that life will in fact let us down at times, but it doesn’t need to keep us down!

Stephen doesn’t stop there, next up is the great law giver, Moses. The life lessons Moses taught were vast but maybe the most important is what meekness looks like. To be strong and yet gentle is something few people posses. Moses was let down more than once by the children of Israel but his love for the nation never wavered. Moses love ran deep, so deep he would have preferred to die with the children of Israel than to live life without them. More than once Moses would say to the Lord, “if you can’t spare them, don’t spare me either.” How do you respond when people disappoint you and let you down? Let’s pray and ask God to give us a heart of compassion. Last but not least Stephen reminds the leaders of Israel’s greatest King, David. David is a model of forgiveness and our need for it. David’s life reminds us that even great men fail and disappoint themselves. Greatness doesn’t demand perfection but rather repentance and forgiveness, toward ourselves and others. We are never more like Jesus than when we forgive and never more like the devil when we don’t. Psalm 51 is a beautiful psalm that captures perfectly the heart of this great king.

Four fathers whose lives are all unique and yet provide great life lessons every parent should teach their children and pray to God they grow up to be like. Here’s a prayer that General Douglas MacArthur, the great military hero of the WWII generation, that he offered up for his son. He wrote, ''Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be. Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.''

Yes, loved one, may we reach into the future and yet, never forget the past!

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Romans 15:4


Michael Osthimer





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