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  • Calvary Dalton

For The Dads

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

For most of the 17 springs we have lived in our home, we have had the pleasure of watching house finches build their nests in the eaves of our front porch. From our living room windows, we have had a “bird’s-eye view” of the nest-building, the mamas waiting on the nests, the hatching, the feeding, and - most exciting of all - the flying.

This spring has been no exception, though it has been a little unusual. After a few days of watching a mama bird dutifully sitting on the nest, I noticed she was gone. They will leave the nest briefly to get food, but hours went by, then days. No mama bird. I began to think about the sad task of taking down that nest and the little eggs that never hatched. I hadn’t gotten around to doing it when days later I noticed several tiny bald heads peeking up over the edge of the nest! I couldn’t believe it. They had survived! But my excitement quickly turned to dread as I remembered there was no mother to feed them. How long would they last? Was there anything I could do?

Fortunately I didn’t have to answer those questions. Soon a bird with a red head and chest appeared. It was the dad! And he was feeding them! We have learned a lot watching these birds. We have seen that it’s a two-bird job. Once the babies hatch, the mom and dad take turns with the feedings. I have even seen the dad feed the mom as she sat on the nest. All the flutter and activity is fun to watch. When the parent appears, the hatchlings chirp wildly, their shaky gray heads pop up, beaks open and tilt upward waiting to be filled. (Ok, the feeding process is a little on the gross side. We can skip that description.) Feeding done, the parents fly off, and the satisfied babies nestle quietly back down in the nest. Having watched this event repeated year after year, I wondered if the daddy bird was going to be able to do this alone.

I watched with delight and respect as I saw him come back again and again to feed his tiny but demanding brood. There were five hungry mouths to feed, but somehow he did it. After a couple of weeks, the fledglings were flapping their wings and getting ready to take the plunge. One by one they took off. The nest was empty, but my heart was full.

Dads, what an awesome job you have. Nobody said it would be easy. And, in contrast to the birds, your job isn’t over in a few weeks or even a few years. It’s a long haul of feeding and clothing and teaching and loving and eventually letting go. Our middle child is preparing to “leave the nest” now, and it’s amazing how quickly these years have gone by. I am extremely thankful to my husband for how he invested himself in all of our children. It often meant setting aside his plans to help them with theirs. It meant hard work and lots of patience. It meant tough love and lots of prayer. Fatherhood is not for the faint-hearted.

As Father’s Day approaches, and perhaps you await the customary gifts of ties or tools or even handmade cards with jelly smeared on them, I want to remind you that you don’t have to do this job alone. There is another Father who is happy to help. He is God the Father, and He knows your fears and your weaknesses. He smiles when you get it right. And he loves you even when you don’t. He knows how much pressure you’re under and wants to lift the load. Remember, He created you to fly too!

I encourage you to look to Him for help. Let Him guide you as you guide your children. Let Him pour His love into you so that you have love to pour into your kids. You’ll be glad you did.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”     Isaiah 40:29-31

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