A loving father with arms open wide
By COLONEL RODNEY WALTERS
Happy Father’s Day!
It has been 11 years since I was home in Australia for Father’s Day. In that time, while serving overseas as a Salvation Army officer, my father and my father-in-law were both promoted to glory. Both were great role models in their own distinct way, but they were two men who made a deep impression on my life.
As an officer father, I have tried to be fair and present in my children’s lives when I was home or with them. Of course, this didn’t always happen due to crises or issues that had to be attended to, and so, I guess it could be said that I was largely an absent father. (Not a badge I want to wear!)
As a family, we had to prioritise one night a week as a family night so my kids knew they had my complete attention. I always intended to be a good husband, father, officer and friend because of my love for Jesus.
I remember watching a movie called We Were Soldiers. One scene that stood out was when a young military officer was in the chapel of a hospital following the birth of his daughter, and he was questioning God whether he could be both a father and an officer. His commander came in and, hearing his concern, took the soldier to the prayer rail, and both knelt and prayed. The commander said he believed that being good at one would make the officer good at the other. The sentiment rang true – if you commit yourself to the task you are given, your commitment, discipline, and obedience will also help you deal with life matters.
There is no one template for fatherhood. When we make time with our children, we need to be present with them.
I have also been blessed with other fatherly role models who have shown me commitment, fun, hard work, and the blessing of time! I have learnt that it is never too late to make amends and start over. The past may not be forgotten, but the ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow’ may change the focus of how our reactions unfold.
“We have an Everlasting Father who loves us and has provided everything we need to return to him, no matter what we have done.”
The most beautiful image of a forgiving father would be the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). In regard to the best image of a father being forgiven by a child would be seeing arms wide open for an embrace.
The next component, or blessing, of being a father is when your child presents you with a grandchild. These are transformational moments. In most cases, you are not the responsible parent and have a small liberty to do things you couldn’t do with your children. It’s a strange yet pleasant feeling.
Father’s Day brings many thoughts to many people, but I would like to revisit the parable mentioned earlier. We have an Everlasting Father who loves us and has provided everything we need to return to him, no matter what we have done. He comes to us, arms open wide to receive us!
The writer of the song, ‘So You Would Come’, captures this sentiment well in the second verse:
Nothing you can do can make Him love you more
And nothing that you’ve done could make Him close the door
Because of His great love, He gave His only Son
Everything was done so you would come.
It is my hope for you, no matter your experiences of the past, that today you will experience love and acceptance by our loving Heavenly Father.