Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 (Part 2) – A Good, Good Father…The Ultimate Compliment to a Dad

Posted: January 19, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 (Part 2 of 7)

A Call to Love and Obedience

 

Did you fear your earthly father growing up? Were you afraid of him? Did you respect him? Was he a taskmaster? Was your house a house of eggshells to be treaded lightly upon when you father was home from work? Did you dad play with you at times? Did he shoot hoops with you out in the yard? Did he roughhouse with you in the den or living room while you and he waited for me to finish preparing dinner for the evening?

 

As for me, sitting here at age 54 and looking back upon my years at home with my mom (who passed away in November 2010) and dad (still alive and kicking), my mom was the easy one to figure out. Mom was mom. She loved us and looked after us like a mother hen. She was the one who gave my brother and me unconditional love. She just loved us. She was our support system. She did all the little things that half the time we did not notice. Clothes were always in our chests of drawers. Clean underwear, of course was a necessity to moms – just in case you were in a car accident, ya know. There was always food in the cabinets and in the fridge. She always made sure that the basics of life were taken care of. She was our nurse when we were sick and when we got scrapes and cuts. Mom was mom.

 

My dad was the more complex one for us to figure out as kids. At times, he was scary and gruff. He was the enforcer. He was the disciplinarian. He was the one that mom would say “wait til your father gets home!” He was the last word. He was the rule maker. He was the tone setter for our house. It was clear that mom was his partner, helper, and confidant but it was equally clear that dad was the final authority in our house. He made the rules. He enforced them. He was the one that taught my brother and me that there were consequences for breaking the rules. There was no negotiating with him when we violated the family rules. Punishment was sure and swift. I used to fear him when I broke the rules (which was more often than I would care to admit in front of my kids). Dad was tough. As you know, from my previous years of blogging, my dad was/is a minister in the United Methodist Church in South Carolina. When we were growing up, my dad was dad all the time, even in church. He would have no truck with stopping in the middle of his sermon to call me out in the middle of church for misbehaving. Dad was dad all the time even when he was working. I knew not to cross my dad. His judgments were swift and sure.

 

At the same time, though, my dad was fun. He would play ball with us. He would pin us down in the floor and tickle us. He would wrestle me and my brother at the same time and he would always win. He taught us how to throw a football. He taught us how to tackle. He taught us how do stuff. He would joke around with us. He would join in with us in those mom as a girl against us as boys arguments. He would just be goofy with us. He would tell us stories of his youth and teenage years that would have us spellbound. My dad would teach us how to fix stuff, build stuff, and work on stuff. He was where I got my sense of humor, goofy and corny that it is. We would even have burping contests on road trips at times – who could produce the loudest and/or longest burps while drinking Dr. Peppers. At the same time, he would amaze me with the power of his oratory style when he was a young to middle aged preacher. His sermons were always well-crafted and researched but yet at the same time relatable to even me as a kid and as a teenager. He was larger than life to me. I thought my dad was ten feet tall and bullet proof. He could preach on Sunday with the best of the best with these well thought out sermons with great illustrations that kept his church’s spellbound and then fix the alternator on his car that afternoon. He could answer pretty much any question about anything that I had. He was the one that I would come to with those tough life choice questions. He would give advice but he always made it feel as though I was making the decisions, even though in his wisdom he was guiding me where he wanted me to go with my decisions. My dad was and is smart as a whip. He instilled in my brother and me a thirst for knowledge and to never stop learning and to actually love learning.

 

Looking back on my relationship with my Dad now as a parent and a grandparent myself, I look back with a kind of respectful fondness for my Dad. When we were young we thought Dad was perfect and he was our standard for everything. Then, it bummed us out as we matured into teenagers and adults that Dad was not perfect and that he made mistakes. However, as I have grown older and became a parent myself, it is obvious that the job is not easy – being a parent. You grow in respect for your Dad in what he tried to accomplish in us. He was not perfect but he did the best he could with the talents and the shortcomings that he had. I look back on those days and I respect my dad. For all our faults that both my brother and I have, my dad raised pretty well-adjusted, level-headed, ambitious, hard-working boys. I only hope that I did as well with my two girls as I feel he did with us. Even now, with my dad in his twilight years (he will be 78 years old in little less than two months), I still have this reverent respect for him when I am in his presence. He is my dad. I think about the sacrifices that he made for us. Working his butt off for us (sometimes working two jobs early in his pastoral career when being a bi-vocational pastor was not cool). I think about the discipline and how my Dad was unwavering in where the lines in the sand were (which I appreciate now). There is a reverence and even a healthy fear of my dad now even though we are two adults now and the relationship has morphed more into a friendship. Even though I am an adult and do not live under his roof, I would be heartbroken if I disappointed my dad with my life choices even now. It makes me feel a keen sense of self-worth and satisfaction knowing that my dad is proud of me and the man I have finally become. We do not talk regularly as dad’s slowing health and mind make him less talkative than he once was but my dad is with me always. There is not a week that goes by that I do not reference once of my dad’s famous country boy raised on the farm sayings such as “such is life” or “sorry don’t feed the bulldog” among many others that he had in his arsenal. So, yeah, I love my dad in a way that is way different from my love for my mom. My love for my dad is a reverent respect. It is that I thank you for being tough on me kind of love. It is that wow you were right kind of love. It is that how he know that would turn out that way years later kind of love. It is respect. It is honor. It is appreciation.

 

This question is the one that jumped to mind this morning as I read through this passage for the first time multiple times we will go through this passage. In this passage, we are seeing the way we are to relate to God. Yesterday, we found out that we are to love God with all we have. Today, we find that we must fear the Lord. Let’s read Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 together today with that in mind:

 

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

 

14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.

Love and Obey the Lord

 

11 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea[a] as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done

 

When the Bible says that we are “to fear the Lord”, what exactly does that mean? For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31). For the believer, the fear of God is something much different. The believer’s fear is reverence of God. According to my favorite go-to website for questions of our faith, www.gotquestions.com, it says on this matter that,

 

“Some redefine the fear of God for believers to ‘respecting’ Him. While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that. A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer. Hebrews 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While it is done in love (Hebrews 12:6), it is still a fearful thing. As children, the fear of discipline from our parents no doubt prevented some evil actions. The same should be true in our relationship with God. We should fear His discipline, and therefore seek to live our lives in such a way that pleases Him.”

 

We, as believers, are not be scared or mortified by God, to the point that we hide under a rock and do not live. We are to love and respect God for the fact that He is our Creator and that He is the all-knowing, all-powerful ruler of the universe. He is the all to end all. He is the shinizzle. He is the top of the top. We are to love the fact that “he is ‘all-that’ and a order of fries!” as the saying goes. We are to love Him for all that He is to us. He is the reason we exists. That’s the respect and awe part. We are to love Him for His discipline of us to teach us what we need to know. That’s the respect and awe part. We are to love Him for His wisdom. That’s the respect and awe part. We are to love Him in reverence for who He is and what He has done for us. We are to love Him because He is our Father. We are to love Him because He is fun Father too. God has a great sense of humor. He puts those thoughts in our head about the quirks of ourselves and the world we live in. He makes us laugh. He gives us laughter. He is all that and a bag of chips. He is God whom we must reverently look upon in awe and in love.

 

My prayer for today is that you have a an earthly father that was both tough and playful, stern and funny, disciplinarian and playmate, taskmaster and wrestlemania master, teacher of the tough lessons and teacher of the fine art of burping, the big kidder with your mom but at the same time show you how to love and respect women and maybe then you will have a small glimpse of who God is to us. May you have had a godly earthly father. My prayer for us is that you take that love and reverence that you think of when you think of your earthly father and that can be the beginning of understanding what “fear of the Lord” means when it comes to our Heavenly Father. If your earthly father was mean and sadistic, may you take the ideas about love and reverence of God as our Heavenly Father and let those guide you in what you as a father should be like.

 

Amen and Amen.

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