On Labor Day weekend 1981, I preached the dedication sermon for our new church building in Dallas, Penn. Mom, Dad and my brother drove up from North Augusta for the celebratory service.
That Saturday night Dad helped us finish the last-minute painting to get the building ready for the big day. He bragged that he was doing his mission service. It was the last time I saw my dad. He died on Nov.14 that year from a heart attack.
One of the most treasured gifts he gave me was given posthumously. It’s an inheritance more than money.
Mom and I had the unpleasant task of cleaning out his office. With tears flowing down my face, his secretary came in, put her arms around me, and said, “I want you to know how much your father talked about you and how proud he was of you. He really loved you.”
Those words have been a source of help to me, especially when I get down on myself. I will always treasure the blessing from my father. There is something special about it.
God the Father set the example for all dads when he gave his Son the blessing for all to hear at Jesus’ baptism: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
How our children, whether grown or growing, need the father’s blessing! Without it, there is a feeling of incompleteness and a search for affirmation.
Psychologists have observed a new phenomenon in our American culture that is not good. It is called “father hunger.”
Psychologist Edward Kruk writes, “Many theories have been advanced to explain the poor state of our nation’s children: child poverty, race and social class. A factor that has been largely ignored, however, particularly among child and family policymakers, is the prevalence and devastating effects of father absence in children’s lives. The two major structural threats to fathers’ presence in children’s lives are divorce and non-marital childbearing.”
This father hunger, Kruk asserts, leads to disastrous consequences such as behavior problems, truancy, delinquency and drug and alcohol abuse, and the children are at a greater risk of suffering physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
So, give your children the blessing: “I love you. I am well pleased with you. I am proud of you.”
Lay off the criticism. Accentuate the positive traits and minimize the negative. It’s never too late to give the blessing even if your children are grown and gone.
And what if you never received “the blessing?” What if your father is in absentia, was abusive or left this earth without bestowing the blessing? Then, receive the blessing from the heavenly Father, which is his blessing to all of his children: “This is my son, my daughter, whom I love and with whom I am well-pleased.”
The heavenly Father’s blessing is powerful. It is food to satisfy father hunger. It is water for the thirsting soul. It gives life and light to us and power to live from the affirmation that we are loved and cherished by the Father who created us, redeemed us through the cross and sustains us by his Spirit.
THE REV. DAN WHITE IS THE PASTOR OF NORTH COLUMBIA CHURCH IN APPLING.