Being a father is no easy day in the sun, but who would've thought that raising children, even on to adulthood would be such a labor of love?
In their passionately driven song "You Love Me Anyway" by Sidewalk Prophets the band wonderfully captures the same tenderhearted devotion of our Savior in that despite being "the sweat from His brow" God still loves us regardless.
Two nights ago my oldest son and I had a much needed discussion on marriage, the Bible, and the Christian faith. With Pennsylvania now allowing for same sex marriage I initiated this conversation with Dennis because he was showing great interest and asking questions concerning the benefits of marrying his partner of six years.
In our discussion I explained to my son the purpose God has as well as His design for marriage between a man and a woman. His argument was that in setting aside "religion" for a moment why couldn't two people who love each other regardless if they are gay simply marry one another.
Our conversation took many twists and turns down the road between opinion and truth. Ultimately my son inquired that out of all the religions in the world what makes Christianity or your religion as he put it, the "right" one? I know what I believe to be truth but trying to articulate it to someone who does not accept or acknowledge God for who He is is quite difficult.
In the end my son walked away knowing where I stood on the issues of same sex marriage and my faith and he respected both. Our conversation also took away some of the mystery that was hanging over his head with regards to whether or not I condone or will bless his choice to get married if and when that day comes. For now it looks as though we have some time because my son is adamant about finishing school plus he admits marriage is not one of his top priorities right now, which is a relief to both his mom and I.
When the conversation was over I too felt a sense of relief in that I got a chance to express to my son that despite his choices he is still my son and that I love him tremendously. I also mentioned that because I love him it was important I share with him the truth. In my studies at the PA Bible Institute I learned a very important lesson about love, more specifically the agape love our heavenly Father has for us and that which we are to have for others. One of my teachers put it best when he ascribed to this type of selfless love as when a person acts in someone else's best interest with eternity in view even if it costs him personally.
That night I risked it all and by not compromising my faith to appease the masses or popular ideology of the day I believe that may have spoken volumes to my son. This conversation is only the beginning of several more discussions I'm sure and we both welcome similar talks in the future. I get the sense that my Father is calling me to roll up my sleeves, put on my farmer's hat replete with overalls and tenderly cultivate the soil of my son's heart. This field is rough and even after breaking through the hard path the soil is still filled with many rocks, thorns, and thistles therefore making it difficult to sustain the seeds that are being planted. It's not easy, but the Lord calls us to be faithful to the Truth and to love unconditionally, and if we steady our hand to the plow I believe God will be faithful in delivering our wayward children back to Him.
I am grateful for this dialogue that took place between my son and I recently because it has taught me many a valuable things. First, it reminded me that my job is not to make my son straight, but rather my obligation is to bring him to Jesus. It is the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit that transforms lives and not the will of this flawed man.
Secondly, it is important that my son not only hear the words that come forth from my mouth, but to see love in action as well. In a recent blog post Pastor Shane Idleman sounds the battle cry to fathers everywhere that "our families would rather 'see' a sermon than 'hear' one". Idleman goes on to quote a portion of a poem from prolific American poet Edgar A. Guest called "I'd Rather See A Sermon" which seems to speak from the viewpoint of children to their fathers:
"The lectures that you give may be very wise and true,
but I'd rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
but there is no misunderstanding how you act and how you live".
Lastly, and most important to me is this conversation has revealed that my inmost desire is to have my son know deep in his heart that just like our Father in heaven the love of his earthly dad will never change despite the occasional sweat from his brow.
Hi Dennis. I really appreciated your honesty in this straight from the heart article. You are so absolutely right that what we show in our lives is far more important than all the talk, but how true also that we need to keep conversation open with our children, no matter what their choices in life.
The only critique I have is to be very careful using lyrics or poetry in articles. Copyright is fairly tricky, and writing can be quite a risky business. Fair use is only a defense a writer may be able to use if the original author chooses to sue them. It's not actually the freedom to use anything. Even worse, lyrics and poetry are considered out of bounds even of fair use because even a snippet constitutes a large portion of the entire work.
The advice I give (and follow, from writer/editor/publisher point of view) is to either gain legal copyright clearance or leave it out. Copyright is for the author's lifetime plus, from memory, 70 years. So if Billy Joel died tomorrow, there would still be 70 years before his songs came under public domain, provided his heirs did not extend the copyright.
So, in the case of your article, I would give the title of the song, and then give just an overview of the meaning of the words, without quoting them. With the poem, that could actually be in the public domain, but not sure.
Apart from that, though, it is a solid article. I suspect God is going to use you to be an encouragement and blessing to parents with similar family situations.
God bless you as you continue to write for His glory.