Father’s Day by Rev. R. Ijbema
Reverend Rinze Ijbema is the former pastor of my congregation, the CanRC in Chilliwack, and is the current minister at the GKV Gronigen-oost in Holland. Rev. Ijbema has written the following article for Father’s Day, and has graciously given it to be posted on this blog. I hope that you, the reader, will appreciate this article as much as I do.
Thank you Rev. Ijbema!
A father of four myself, you may assume I know what I’m talking about, writing a piece about Father’s Day. At least I know what Father’s Day is, a day on which each of my daughters has made some small and beautiful gift, and a day on which they do their best to make life easy for me. Much appreciated, my girls! Know that you are the most beautiful gifts any father could wish for.
I know what Father’s Day is, but sometimes I wonder if I really know what it takes to be a father. Maybe you guys who have sons are in a more comfortable position, playing hockey with your offspring or enjoying the excuse to buy boys’ toys. Yet maybe you share my experience that you do not always feel competent to raise your children in today’s complex world in an adequate way. If there was a test for ‘Expert Fatherhood,’ I’m afraid I would fail it.
Looking back, we all realize that it didn’t take much for our fathers to be good fathers. I’m not saying that all of them were good fathers, or that they always were good fathers. Knowing my own shortcomings, the faults of others do not surprise me. What I say is that in hindsight it didn’t take much for them to succeed as a real father. All it took was some recognition of us, their sons, some recognition that we are who we are and that we have what it takes to be a man ourselves. From this perspective, I may not necessarily be an expert, but I know ‘Fatherhood 1-0-1.’I can respect my children for who they are.
Looking up, I realize that there is someone else who claims the title of ‘Father.’ In the Christian tradition, we are taught by Jesus Christ himself to address God as Father, ‘Our Father who art in heaven.’ His competence as a father I dare not doubt, since He is not modelled after us, but in all his qualities He is the unblemished original. And He is more than that, according to who He claims to be in the Bible. His fatherhood not only implies the possibility of a personal relationship, as between a father and his children, but also the reality of Him being the source of all that is, and in that sense the ground of being.
And then there is this other reason why God is known as Father, because He is the eternal Father of his Son, whom we have learned to know as Jesus Christ. But I’m always a little bit uncomfortable to bring this up. In the end, God the Father was apparently willing to deny his Son, when He allowed him to be crucified by us… By the same token, the Father did accept Jesus’ willingness to carry the cross exactly as what it took to be his Son. Even if I do not fathom this Father-Son relationship completely, I continue to find myself captivated by the depth of love I find in it.
And I like to think that, thanks to Jesus Christ, whether you are a father or not, whether your father is still around or not, today can be Father’s Day for you too.
Rev. Rinze IJbema.