“Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’”
—Genesis 22:7a (NRSV)
We can only imagine what was going through Isaac’s and Abraham’s minds and hearts during the story that is the substitutionary sacrifice that God prepared in order to save Isaac in approving Abraham’s faith.
Consider sacrificing one’s own son! Of course, this is no strange concept to God, that God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son to save it. But for us, this is a heinous thought—to sacrifice our own sons (or daughters).
In many unfortunate ways, however, sons have been neglected by their fathers, just as daughters have been neglected by their mothers—and certainly vice versa.
Consider this story:
A Passage through Life without Dad
A boy grows through his toddler years knowing Dad in and around the home, but, while still at a young age, Dad leaves, without a trace. He is left with a few scant memories. As he enters his early teens he is easily envious of other boys who have their fathers in their lives. In his late teens, the boy grows resentful and angry. He struggles to respect men, let alone trust them. He marries eventually and has his own children, and wonders with genuine curiosity what sort of Grandad his Dad would have made. Having made something of his life he still wishes Dad to recognise him as the man he has become. But Dad cannot be found. This boy, now a full-grown man, is engaged in some level of ambiguous grief. In his 40s, this man would dearly love to just sit and compare notes with his father.
Of course, it’s a sad story, but one replayed in a myriad of formats and nuances throughout life. So many families have crumbled and have never been put back together.
With prompt recognition of unfortunate family circumstances there is also the opportunity to make of what can be made. No life is destitute. Even without a father or mother there is the grandness of hope beyond the given circumstance.
The Truth about Fathers
Perhaps it’s the person who has no father, or someone who has lost their father, who may vouch for the value of the father.
Although Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac, he was not motivated out of neglect, but out of adherence to God, and God would never have required Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.
The truth about fathers, especially as sons are concerned, but also with daughters, is they are vital. Not only is it vital that fathers don’t damage their sons (or daughters) it’s equally vital that they love them with all their hearts.
The truth about fathers is they have power—through God to speak love into their children’s lives. That is not to mention the negative power they have by abuse or neglect.
Being a father is about the highest responsibility any man could embrace.
When a son cries out, “Father!” he needs his father to respond in love. The boy who hears a response, and who is loved, is a boy who will grow into safe manhood. Fatherhood may be just about the most important role any man could be given by God.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.