I love being a Dad. Physically. Spiritually.
As I’ve shared in the past, I haven’t always been good at it. I think I’m getting better. (At least, I hope I’m getting better!!.) It is the kind of thing where you’re never there, you’ve never arrived; you’re just always working on getting better and better.
It’s the enigma of fatherhood. Loving being a good father, recognizing that in so many ways you’re not. And yet, striving to be the very best father you can be. Your failures loom larger than many of your successes, especially in your memory.
It’s a rare person who is able to look at someone being a father, and decide to pour into their lives to equip them to be a better one. First of all it requires a close and trusting relationship. You can’t just walk up to some stranger and say to them, “Hey there, why don’t you let me help you be a better father?” Sometimes I wish it were that easy, but it’s not.
But once the relationship is there, then you get to see things that you might not see otherwise. And because the relationship is there, you get to say things you might not say otherwise.
Perhaps most importantly, because the relationship is there, people will hear things they might not listen to otherwise. Because with the relationship comes a deepening sense of trust. A belief that, even when painful things need to be said, they are said with love and the best of intent.
That’s where today’s verse comes in. THE LORD CORRECTS THOSE HE LOVES, JUST AS A FATHER CORRECTS A CHILD IN WHOM HE DELIGHTS.
See, it’s not just fathers who need to be better fathers. Fathers help children grow to become better people. Because being a better father necessarily entails helping children grow. That’s kind of the job description. And to help a child grow, you have to be willing to give correction. Sometimes it’s easier than others.
For the fathers who truly have a father‘s heart, giving correction is not a matter of control or meanness. It’s a matter of delight. The truly loving father corrects a child in whom he delights. The father sees the potential. The father understands the impact that little small choices can make on big outcomes.
Driving down the road drifting ever so slightly to one side of the other will eventually bring you to the ditch unless you correct it. When you’re drifting, you don’t want to wait until the last minute, having to swerve sharply in order to avoid entering the ditch. The best drivers make their corrections almost imperceptibly. They make driving look easy. As anyone who has driven knows, driving is anything but easy. It requires constant attention to multiple things, any of which can change in a split second. But practice develops skill, skill develops reflexes, reflexes are supported by experience.
And experience is formed by making corrections. Initially those corrections are based upon outside information, but the goal is to come to the point where you see what OUGHT to be corrected before it becomes a major issue. Before the car ends up in a ditch. Our heavenly father knows that. He knows that if he offers correction before we hit the ditch The process is much less painful.
There are many things one can learn by making the mistakes on their own and paying the consequences for bad choices. We all do that. We touch the stove when it’s hot. But the best way to learn lessons is from someone else’s experience. I can learn how important a seat belt is from driving past an accident; I don’t need to wait until I’m in one. There’s a billboard I’ve seen of a van swerving across a road . The front of the van has been crushed in a collision. Three of its wheels are in the air and it is just about to roll over. The caption says, “Not the time to check your child’s car seat.”
It is much, much better to learn to do the right thing BEFORE it becomes a life or death matter. It is much less painful to listen to the corrections offered by the person with experience and make the small corrections early. It eliminates the need to try and make major corrections later one, when they may not be able to be made in time to avoid the ditch.
Being willing to accept correction essentially comes down to an issue of trust. Do you trust that the one offering the correction has the wisdom and experience to speak into your life? Do you trust that they have your best interests at heart? If so, then choosing to listen is a mark of wisdom, intelligence and maturity.
Wisdom recognizes that our knowledge is limited, but we decide to trust the one with the greater knowledge. Intelligence recognizes that our experience may not have sufficiently developed our skills, so we decide to rely upon the one with more experience. Maturity recognises that we don’t agree with the conclusions we are being warned against because our knowledge and experience don’t lead us to the same conclusions, so we decide to trust the one who loves us enough to correct us.
The Lord loves us so deeply, He speaks correction into our lives.
THE LORD CORRECTS THOSE HE LOVES, JUST AS A FATHER CORRECTS A CHILD IN WHOM HE DELIGHTS.
Learn to listen. Learn to trust. Learn to obey.