The tension of fatherhood is that we as men feel pulled by two major responsibilities. We want to be present to our families, but also we want to provide for them as well.
We want to fulfill our children’s need for both affirmation and affection through our loving presence, but we also want to fulfill their need for safety and security through our diligent provision.
The Splitter’s desire, however, is to rip us apart. He wants to make it so that when we are physically present we still remain emotionally absent. He wants to distract our attentions with the stresses of work, or the numbing effects of alcohol, or the allure of our iPhone screens.
Similarly, he wants to make it so that our provision never seems sufficient. As Rockefeller famously responded to the question how much money is enough…”just a little bit more.” Therefore, we toil and labor without ever truly enjoying the fruits of our labor.
This constant tug-of-war between these, seemingly, competing desires leaves us feeling as though we are never good enough.
Recently, I reread Abraham’s story in Genesis 22. (Take 5 minutes right now and read it for yourself…even if you don’t believe in the Bible this is a compelling and well crafted story). Looking at it through this lens of providing and presence. I was struck by how Abraham failed his son as well.
Abraham’s was present physically, but he spent three days with his son preparing to kill him. Could you imagine tucking your son into bed those two nights, knowing that at the end of the journey you were going to be sacrificing him.
Abraham also failed to provide what was needed for his son’s safety. Abraham by this point was a successful shepherded. He had thousands of sheep that he could have sacrificed. He had labored and toiled for decades, certainly God wouldn’t mind if he substituted his best sheep for his “one and only Son, whom he loved.”
Yet this story is more about Abraham’s rescue than Isaac’s. With each step Abraham was forced to surrender his desires and trust that his Father. Therefore, it is at the very moment that Abraham had to have felt like an utter failure as a father–he had his son tied to a burning alter with a giant knife plunging towards his son’s heart–that God rescues Abraham.
His Heavenly Father reveals his Presence and Provision for Abraham.
It is at our places of failure that we discover that God is the Providing Presence in our life. Therefore, if as father’s we truly want to be both Present and Providers for our children we need to first draw on the presence and provision of God.
That would allow us to see our child’s eternal safety and security is not earned through our paychecks and a few more hours at the office. Likewise, it would let us see that our child’s need for affirmation and approval must come first from God and our task is to draw them towards the contra-conditional love of Jesus Christ