“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6)
I would like to share with you something that is very dear to my heart, and it concerns my children. As a father of three, with children ranging from about 1 to 8, I provide the following tidbits for helping your family to remain close-knit. This, I see as the ‘undoing’ of the curse mentioned in Malachi 4:5-6, quoted above. Without intimacy, and forgiveness, and closeness, in our family relationships, we are, simply put, doomed. Something needs to be done. We need to return to the heart of the Father, and the job for doing this within the family context has indeed been entrusted into the hands of the fathers.
First, as a father, I am very aware that my children need me. I am, in many ways, the very ‘center’ of their attention. When at nights they want me to bounce them on the bed, I am the center of their focus. When they want me to read them Bible stories, I am again the center of their focus. When it comes to making decisions that will directly impact them, I am again at the very center of their focus. A lot revolves around dad. Dad has the power to ‘make’ or ‘break’ the whole family, in this respect. What dad says is often “law”. Dad, therefore, has to be very careful about what he says!
One knows not how sensitive children can be. A wrong word from dad, and the children may remember it longer than you think, particularly if the word was overly critical or condemning, or cut them off from doing something that they really had their heart set on doing (ie they feel a particular injustice). I have had the occasion on many occasions, as we have gathered close and hugged, of saying to my children, “Daniel (or Elizabeth), is there anything at all that daddy has done that has hurt you or made you feel bad?” I have been shocked at the reply, as my son, for example, has told me of an event that happened years earlier. I was, as a result of it, reduced to tears and repentance. I have therefore made it a regular habit now to approach my children in this way, by saying to them regularly, “Is there anything that dad has done to hurt you?” In this way, I have come to better appreciate the very fragile nature of children. And, I have noticed the difference when the family is close-knit, and when the family is not.
I have felt closer to one child (my daughter) than to my son (Daniel) on many occasions. I have gone up to my daughter’s room, and prayed with and for her and felt a real warmth and closeness. The intimacy is second to none. My daughter is a real “daddy’s girl”. I never fail to say how beautiful she is and how wonderful of a person she is. I know she soaks it right in. The best part is that I believe every word that I am saying. She knows that and she feels very very special. She is a very secure person. There is no one like my daughter. If I miss reading her a story at night, she will remind me of it in the morning. She tries to compete sometimes, with her older brother. I have tried to tell her that we love her just as she is. She doesn’t need to compete. She is loved. Just loved. Loved. And more loved.
Seeds of separation in a family can come in very early, even in the developmental years. As I detailed in some other articles, there was clear spiritual warfare for my son while he was in the womb. God prevailed and our son was born. I had a dream that someone (must have been Jesus) rang the doorbell and handed me my son. He was a gift from heaven! This young man is a blazing fireball who needs direction. Steer him in the right direction and he will tear up everything the devil laid down. Allow him to go undisciplined for his wrongful behavior, and he will go the way of any other child, following in the devil’s footsteps.
Thanks to my precious gift from God, my wife Mary, as she led him in a crucial phone conversation, Daniel, filled with the Holy Spirit, evangelized to my father shortly before his death a year ago. “Grand-daddy, you need Jesus,” he said. “If you don’t have Jesus, you’ll go to hell. I don’t want you to go to hell. The Bible says you need to be born again. You can read it in your Bible, grand-daddy.” “Where does it say that?” Grand-daddy responded, later adding, “Okay, I promise to read it”. Shortly after that, grand-daddy (my father) made his confession, and wrote on a piece of paper as an eternal witness, “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me.” He had been as hard as a door-nail before that, but God did something very special in having my son talk with my father. In a way, you could say that I evangelized my father through my son. I am very grateful for that, and this is just how powerful a father-son relationship can be.
I went up to my son’s room not long ago, when he was sleeping, and tried praying for him. I felt a ‘wall’ in my hard heart. I couldn’t seem to get through. I didn’t feel the same intimacy that I had felt ten minutes earlier when I had been praying for my daughter in her room. I had to surrender my burdens to the Lord. I had to confess the real issue: I needed to be a better father to my son. I had ‘failed’ in this respect. I ‘knew’ I had failed. I had done so many wrong things. I was a ‘failure’. I wept many many tears, crying over my precious son for whom the Lord died and laid down his life. I was to be a better father. I was to pray more for my son. I was to love my son with more compassion and more tenderness. I was to reflect better the love of Christ in our relationship. I prayed until it was all over. I prayed until I was empty. I had emptied my soul before the Lord. And all of a sudden the intimacy returned. I felt very close to my son again. The next morning, there was a new, tangible, closeness in our relationship. My son came up to me and hugged me intimately. He had not even been awake when I had prayed for him. But in the spirit things had changed. God had done an amazing work.
Before I close, I mention my precious wife, the greatest gift from God to me apart from my salvation. I don’t know if you are aware of it or not, but a woman has been programmed by God to ‘respond’ to a man. They don’t need to be taught this; it is something that is naturally built into them. Nowhere have I seen this more evident than in the marriage relationship. For example, if I ask my wife to do something, she will do it perfectly every time. The woman is the perfect helper of the husband. The problem, I have seen, is usually *not* with the woman but with the *man*. The woman responds beautifully to what the husband says. Trace back the bedlam in your family, and you will usually see that it can be traced back to a bad directive given by the husband — the one who was established as the head of the household. What he said the wife simply did.
I hope that this sharing has been inspirational for you and that it has helped you to better draw close to God, and, if you have a wife and children, to them as well. God loves the family, and has given fathers, and mothers, and awesome responsibility in being able to raise up godly children. It is quite a task! Amidst all the work, dads (and moms), you’ve got quite a responsibility on your plate. No one said it was going to be easy. But the rewards are eternal.