I was sitting in a service the other day when the speaker asked those who had never met their biological fathers to come forward to receive prayer. I was surprised at the large number of people who slowly got out of their seats and came and stood at the front of the church. I was even more surprised when the speaker told us that if he had asked for those who had never heard their fathers say to them, “I love you!” that almost 70% of those in attendance would have come forward.
As staggering as those figures are it really points to a serious condition within our society. Statistics show us that 50% of children live apart from their biological fathers. Even more staggering is that 30% of those have never met or know who their biological father is! In South America the figure is close to 50% and in Africa the number is closer to 60%.
The desertion of the children by their fathers has become an epidemic around the world. Even fathers who have not deserted their children find it difficult to express verbally how much they love their children. I know that these fathers really do love their children and often show it in non-verbal ways; such as providing a good home, etc. But why is it that fathers struggle with verbally expressing their love to their children?
Perhaps the following statistics will help us to understand what has happened to men in general. Though not an excuse these numbers will show us the tremendous attack that men are under. In the last hundred years the world has witnessed two World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq and now the Afghanistan War. Over 42 million men have been killed in battle and 19 million civilians. Numerous ethnic cleansings, genocides, famines and smaller wars have attributed for an additional 8.3 million deaths.
As we look at these figures we are met with the stark realization that many of those that were killed were men. But not all of the deaths were on the battlefield. Many of these men came home severely injured in some way. Leaving behind wives and children who never got to fully experience the joy of having either a father in the house or one that was completely whole.
This has led many sociologists to identify the 20th century as being the most fatherless century in the history of mankind.
My own dad was an exceptional provider and father who I never doubted loved me. Time and time again he would always be there for me whenever I needed him. He was never one to hug; he was more a hand shaker. Even after I moved far away and we would see each other once a year he would greet me with a handshake rather than a hug. I remember when I accepted Jesus into my life and I began to greet him with a hug rather than our traditional handshake. I will always remember that day when I waved his hand away and told him, “I will always be his little boy, and I wanted a hug from my Dad.” Throughout the years I don’t know who was affected more by those hugs, him or I.
When my father passed away twelve years ago I remember sitting with my mother after the funeral when she asked me if I wanted to take home the books I had given my father through the years. Every birthday and Father’s Day I would search around and find a hard to get Western novel or historical book that I thought my father would enjoy. In the front cover I would write how much I loved him and appreciated him. I remember one day in particular when I gave him a book and he looked at it and handed it back to me and told me he couldn’t take it yet because I forgot to write in it.
When my mother told me that I should take the books with me I had never thought that those books would end up being back in my hands. Then looking into my eyes my mother told me that those books were my Dad’s prized possession. Before he passed away they were told they had to move out of their home of over 40 years by the state because they were taking his home to build a road using the law of eminent domain. My mother said that my father told her the only things he cared to take were those books.
Why was that! I think that as much as we as children need the verbal and non-verbal love from our fathers they in turn need to know that their children love them as well and to know that they did all right in raising them.
I remember one time Lois and I were ministering outside of Kiev in the Ukraine. It was at a battered women’s shelter and we were speaking on the Father Heart of God. It was a concept that none of these women understood. They had not only been abandoned by their biological fathers but by their husbands as well. For them to believe that Father God loved them was hard for them to believe. They loved Jesus but the concept of a loving God as a father figure was difficult for them to understand. We began to teach them about the connection between Father God and His son Jesus. As we taught they began to become healed as they accepted Jesus and understood the relationship between Jesus toward his Father and his Father toward his son, Jesus. They began to no longer see the Father as a distant and aloof Godhead but a loving, caring and faithful Father who created us to love Him and to be loved as no other can love.
At the end we had them line up in front of Lois and myself, as we stood in for their father and mother, and we just hugged each one as they came forward and whispered in their ear how proud we were of them and asked forgiveness for the things we had done or the times we were not there when they needed us the most. Personally it is the most draining of ministry times that I take part in. It is like they take so much out of you that you are exhausted by the end of the meeting. Not to mention that your shirt is soaked with tears as they sob uncontrollably in your arms. The need to hear that you are loved and feel a parental loving embrace is a strong force within each one of us.
I have found that most of us react out of not only what our fathers have done to us but when because of their absence they were not there to protect us. I have hugged men in their eighties who cried because they had gone through life never hearing the words that they were loved or that their Father was ever proud of them. Because of this lack of verbal and non-verbal confirmation of our natural fathers love we often find ourselves incomplete in the way in which we show our love to our children and others as well.
Because there is a schism between fathers and sons and daughters, we have un-godly beliefs about our Father God. Because of our natural fathers failings we believe that Father God; “Doesn’t see me as loveable, or important.” “Father God won’t give me any attention, even when I try to get Him to notice me.” “Father doesn’t have time for me.” “Father is not safe, He can’t be trusted.” “Father won’t protect me.” “I don’t need to know Father God any better because my earthly father provides and has provided for all my needs.” Subconsciously each one of us whether raised by a good or a bad father has ungodly beliefs that we must work through so that we can be complete in every way.
I believe we are entering into the day that Malachi talked about in Chapter 4 verse 6, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers;”
June 16th is Father’s Day! Let’s take time on this day to either call or to spend time with our fathers and tell them how much we love, appreciate and respect them. Even if your earthly father has passed away or you are estranged from him, find a quiet place where you can sit and verbally express your love to your father. I really believe you will be surprised at the healing in your heart as well as your father’s heart as you express love and appreciation for them. If you cannot remember the last time you told your children that you love them do not let another Father’s Day go by without telling them how you love them and are proud of them. We pray that each of you will know and experience your heavenly Fathers amazing and faithful love and acceptance in even greater and increasing measures.