This past Sunday I started off the sermon with something I had seen posted on Twitter last week. I didn’t write it down or save it, which is a violation of one of my core tenets to help my insufficient memory. I was thinking it was Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer on Twitter)–pastor, theologian, and church-statistics guru–but I can’t find it, so I will apologize and correct when and if the source is confirmed. The gist of it was how we heap accolades upon moms at church on Mother’s Day but proceed to beat dads to death with how they are the single source of the fall of civilization as we know it when they come to church with their families on Father’s Day, and a caution for pastors not to fall into that trap.
I realized he was completely right, and that I was indeed guilty of that in the past. So I shared this with the people in both services and proceeded to tell the dads that they could relax a little. There would be no beatdown this Father’s Day–we get that enough. No, this was an opportunity to tell you how to catch a break, one that would be a real help.
Many in my generation are familiar with the “Vacation” movies featuring Chevy Chase as bumbling but well-meaning husband and father Clark Griswold. Everything Clark touches turns into a mess, mostly because of his own shortcomings, but it isn’t for a lack of trying or good intentions. Most men want to be good husbands, good fathers, good friends, good employees, good citizens, etc. Most men try really hard to fulfill the responsibilities our role as men places on us. And yet we still find ourselves walking away from the wreckage of the “Family Truckster,” and standing next to a burnt-up Christmas tree in the shambles of our home that has been wrecked by the SWAT team. We feel like we aren’t the men we need to be, like we are somehow letting our families down. Then, to top it all off, the very people who should be encouraging us instead join in the chorus of discouragement.
Let me say to you, as I did at Oasis Church this past Sunday: dads, you’re okay. Most of you aren’t beating your families, cheating on your wife, robbing banks, selling drugs, running guns for the Russian Mob, and so on. You’re leading the family on this trip called “life,” and you’re doing the best you can. The trip isn’t perfect, but neither is anyone else’s. There is strength for the journey, I promise you. And that strength is found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There is also rest for that journey, and it is also found in Christ. All you have to do is ask Him, and He will give you what you need. People frequently equate trusting in God as a crutch, but let me assure you–having needed crutches once myself, I can attest to the fact that there is no shame in using a crutch when you can’t move otherwise.
Guys frequently tell me that they feel guilty that the only time they talk to God or go to church is when things are going badly. Let me ask you this–do you stop at a gas station when the tank is full? Do you stop at a rest area on the interstate when you don’t “need to go?” We stop when we need to stop. GPS estimated arrival times are challenges to be conquered, like the high score on a video game. We tend to drive as far as we can before we stop for any kind of break, and when we finally do pull over it is going to be somewhere that has everything we need in one place. Stop beating yourself up, and start talking to the One who is everything you need for the journey. There’s a place you can stop, catch your breath, refuel, and get back on the road. Jesus is the only rest area that you and I need, because everything we need is in Him.