The Fallout of Fatherlessness

Below is a quote that came from some reflection with two dads after the Cross Current Meeting on Sunday night. In God’s kind providence I was reading the Ensor book and today I ran across this wonderful and applicable quote. It was a sober reminder of my responsibilities before God. The interesting thing here is that I don’t need a church or friend to tell me these things. God, in his manifold kindness, has given me these instincts intuitively.

From reading his Word, meditating on the meat of it and through prayer as I am empowered by His gracious Spirit these truths are in my soul. Would I have written it this way? No, not in a million years. I’m not that smart. John Ensor is a gift to the Church. Do I know what to do? Yes, most certainly. Though I can’t write like Ensor I have a better advantage. He who saved me lives within me.

I think not the issue is as much about what to do as to whether I will humble myself and get off my lazy rear-end and “get-er done”. Praise be to God that I am a Priest and God is my King. Most certainly he takes care of me and this kind providence from the conversation with those two dads to my Monday devotional reading I have received fresh faith that all is well with my God and he is watching over me and providing for the “chief” of sinners.

Here’s the Ensor quote:

As children approach their teen years, the father becomes the key factor in the moral decisions the teen will make. If the father is home and involved, young daughters will more likely relish his attention and tender affirmation and feel no need to get it elsewhere. If such things are absent, daughters are at higher risk to look for them in another man and to feel a deep need to be in a relationship with a boy—any boy. Young boys without fathers (or with absent fathers) are at higher risk to look for their manhood on the streets, where manhood is proven by way of sex, drugs, crime, and dropping out of school.

The man who hits the sofa and delegates family matters to his wife will immediately sow bitterness in his wife and trouble in his children. The father who is harsh and detached, who is grumpy all the time and easily angered, will raise angry and rebellious children.

Brothers some warnings in Scripture are gender-specific because sin affects manhood in ways that differ from woman-hood. As breadwinners, we are particularly susceptible to come home tired and frustrated and want to withdraw into the mindless cocoon of “boob-tube-ism” or some hobby that makes no demands upon us. But we are warned, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). Deny children your attention and you frustrate them. Deny them your wisdom and insight as they start exploring the world around them, and you frustrate them. Ignore them or cut them off for bothering you, and you frustrate them.

Pp. 157-158: John Ensor Doing Things Right in the Matters of the Heart

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Celebration!

(From yesterday’s journal) — I looked at my clock. It was about 3:30 PM. I reflected. In less than two hours, 20 years ago, my life according to the plan of God was about to be tossed into the crucible of suffering. It is amazing to me to look back and think it was 20 years ago today. At this very moment my house was being emptied, in part, and set-up somewhere else. In less than two hours I would come home and see the piano gone and know immediately that my life had taken an unthinkable turn toward something that I could only consider as hellish in nature. My wife and kids were gone and they would never come back. Never!

My life as I knew it was over and it would never be reclaimed. I was gone. I vanished that day and a new person began. It began with a World Trade Center or Katrina start. That’s not a good way to begin. It was the most awful way to get a makeover. 

I was a hardcore legalist, married with two kids. I lost my wife and kids in a day. My friends ostracized me. I was alone, sinking and with no hope of ever being rescued. Heaven dimmed. God moved. The lights went out along with the fire of everything I believed. The only thing that I had was sin. It “ever lives” and it was alive and well in my soul and in my world. Though all things around me had collapsed, sin remained. That is just like sin. It is a persistent reality. A principle that cannot be vanquished in this life.

There I lay in the unvanquished sin of sorrow, regret, shame, disbelief and hopelessness. That was 20 years ago and it was the best day of my life. God extricated me from myself. He killed me that day. Ricky died. How glorious!! How kind of God to kill me. I needed it. Unfortunately I still sin. I’m still selfish. I’m still demanding and arrogant and proud and hang with all sins friends. I’m not glad about this, but I know on that day something dynamic happened that is hard to explain. Ricky was set free.

It was 9 years before I fully felt the freedom. It was nine years of disillusionment and hopelessness and despair. But I was set free that day. I would not change a thing. I do not have any desire to go back to that day(s) as well. It was hellish on steroids and it went on for years. It was the kindness of God. Isn’t that just like the tension we have with our Creator? Bittersweet! Man, this is terrible: Man, I’m growing closer to God. Man!!

At six o’clock this afternoon I looked at my new two oldest kids in a way that I have never seen them before. My first two oldest kids were 6 and 4 years old, girl & boy respectively. My new two oldest kids are currently 6 and 4 years old, girl & boy respectively. I’ve never experienced my new kids this old before. They have now been with me one hour longer than my other kids. My first two oldest kids stopped being my two oldest kids at 5:05 in the afternoon 20 years ago. Today at 6:00 my new two oldest kids were still with me. I’m heading into a new life with them. I’ve done the 6 year old and 4 year old thing…up to 5:05 on April 8, 1988. But I’ve never done the 6 year and 4 year thing past 5:05. Now it is all new. We’ve broken into new territory. This was one of my bitterness-es: That I would not be able to see my children grow up. I didn’t see my first two oldest ones grow up. But now I can watch with much joy as my next two oldest ones grow into mature-hood. I’ve experienced the first hour of it and it was a blessed experience. It was hard to keep from crying as I watched Haydn running up from the backyard in his underwear, pulling a mat like a cape behind him with plastic sword in hand. It was all new. It was beautiful. It was another kindness of God.