The following message was given on Father’s Day, June 21, 2015. The scriptures used were: Mark 4:35-41, II Corinthians 6:1-2 & 16b-18 and I Samuel 17. The scriptures from I Samuel were given as the Children’s message through an explanation and flannel board presentation. Jaxon helped me with the flannel board. When we were finished we all sang the old Vacation Bible School and Sunday School favorite, “Only a Boy Named David.” It was fun!!
You may remember that last Sunday I mentioned we would be “out of town” yesterday and Friday for a family reunion. It was the Haak family gathering in the little town of Hague. By family reunion standards, it was a small group. It was the descendants of Rensie and Anna Haak, which are the children of James’ father and his siblings. James’ father, Albertus, was the oldest, so it was their family that put together this first reunion. The weekend was filled with plenty of visiting and activities including a very warm bus ride around the area that the Haaks lived back in the early 1900s, and it will feel really good to be at home in a cool house this afternoon.
In the family department, James not only looks like his father, but he is like him in many other ways, not the least of which is always wanting to be places more than just a little bit early. I have worked for over 30 years to cure that issue, and I am not quite sure who is winning. The other characteristic that is very similar between James and his father is how he always wants to “fix” things, and I don’t mean car engines or broken toys or such. It is more in terms of trying to fix situations or events or issues that are upsetting the family, especially the children. The girls and I never used to understand what he was doing, but as we are catching on, we often have to stop and say, “don’t fix this, we have to learn by doing.” I have had to “learn” him that we can’t raise strong independent children if you are constantly trying to “fix” their problems for them. Maybe that is the sign of a good dad. As a pushy mother, I have always felt that to turn a baby into a toddler you have to let them take a few bumps and scrapes along the way. It is the same when they get older; the trick is knowing when to hold their hand and knowing when to let them go. I guess in some ways we are still in the learning phase.
Thinking about a good definition for Dad or Father, I dug around until I found a poem that fit the topic. It was written by one of my favorite humorists, who could be serious when she had to, Erma Bombeck. I would like to share that poem with you. Now this poem isn’t just for those in the audience who are biological fathers. Some of you are probably Father figures to nephews and nieces or others in your life and if nothing else I am guessing everyone here had a father, so you might like to relate to it that way, too. Read: “When God Created Fathers” I found the poem on Scrapbook.com and it was submitted by blueridgegrandma, thanks to all for making it available. We all enjoyed it very much!!
When God created Fathers
by Erma Bombeck
When the good Lord was creating fathers, He started with a tall frame.
A female angel nearby said, “What kind of father is that? If you’re going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers up so high? He won’t be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping.”
…And God smiled and said, “Yes, but if I make him child-size, who would children have to look up to?”
And when God made a father’s hands, they were large and sinewy.
The angel shook her head sadly and said, “Do you know what you’re doing? Large hands are clumsy. They can’t manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on ponytails or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats.”
And God smiled and said, “I know, but they’re large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from pockets at the end of a day, yet small enough to cup a child’s face.”
And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders.
The angel nearly had a heart attack. “Boy, this is the end of the week, all right.” she clucked. “Do you realize you just made a father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him with the kid falling between his legs?”
And God smiled and said, ” A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle or hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus.”
God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had ever seen when the angel could contain herself no longer. “That’s not fair. Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?”
And God smiled and said, “They’ll work. You’ll see. They’ll support a small child who wants to ride a horse to Banbury Cross or scare off mice at the summer cabin or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill.”
God worked throughout the night, giving the father few words but a firm, authoritative voice and eyes that saw everything but remained calm and tolerant.
Finally, almost as an afterthought, He added tears. Then He turned to the angel and said,
“Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a mother?”
The angel shutteth up.
The story in chapter 17 of I Samuel, the one you watched being pictured out on the flannel board, is a story of a young boy who takes on a big, mean bully. The bully is a leader in his army. He is looked up to for his stature and strength. He is a soldier who we could almost believe wins more of his battles through his ability to intimidate his opponents than because of his actual actions. Goliath has the super star ability to take over many situations that, we must admit, we would love to have on all sorts of occasions. I know I would have loved that ability a few times when I walked into a room of noisy middle-school students. But Goliath is not our focus today. The scripture points us in the opposite direction, to the story of David a brave young shepherd boy who is willing to take on the world for what he believes is right.
We look at this story as a great example of how the underdog wins out. Now those are the stories we like to watch. Face it, those are the stories that so many of us can relate to. This is the story that we all want to be the hero of. This is a story of how God supports the meek and the mild. David, the innocent young shepherd boy, who seems to be invincible, is the youngest of his family, sensitive and obedient to the orders of his father. Yet he is also the young man, who with God’s help, fights the wild animals in order to protect the sheep, and he grows up to be the strong king who rules all of Israel and becomes the Patriarchal father of the human family that God uses to send his Son Jesus to earth.
But those are later chapters. The chapter we talked of today is the boy who with God’s wisdom overcomes the evil that is threatening the whole race of Israel, the people whom God has chosen. David, the boy-man, the future king and Father of the Savior stops the giant Goliath along with the entire Philistine army with one little stone and a sling shot. The confidence of David up against Goliath is almost a complete opposite of the situation the disciples find themselves surrounded by in the fourth chapter of Mark.
This gospel passage is another of those familiar stories. It happens when the disciples and Jesus are on one of their many crossings of a body of water. It has been a long day for all of them. The crowds at the edge of the sea were so great that Jesus sat in a boat so they couldn’t press on him and he taught while they listened at the water’s edge. He was tired, the disciples were tired, (sort of like we felt yesterday after our bus ride around the homesteads) and he said, “Let’s go over to the other side.” He was likely looking for rest for all of them, and then while he slept in the boat, the storm came up. Many of the disciples were experienced fishermen; they knew how to handle a boat, but this storm was bad and when they didn’t know what else to do, they woke Jesus so he at least would be alert when they capsized and ended up in the water. And when Jesus woke up he simply told the storm to be still.
How many times in life are we going along thinking that things are just fine, and then a “storm” of some king shows up and disrupts all that we are doing? All of our plans and dreams are just out the door with one fell swoop. Maybe it is a real storm in nature, hail that takes out a crop, a blizzard or even an illness that kills off most of a herd of cattle or like for some this summer, the bird flu that wiped out entire flocks of chickens and turkeys. Or maybe it is a storm that causes a barn to collapse, or a fire that takes a home. Maybe it is an accident or mechanical failure that takes out our main vehicle or a piece of equipment that is vital to our livelihood. Maybe it is someone or something at work that makes life miserable, or perhaps it is a situation in the family, or worse yet an illness that seems incurable. What about a death, or an issue with a birth, or a child who has gone astray, or any situation that is so over whelming that we just can’t seem to focus or recover or… We could go on and on in any number of directions, any number of issues. I am sure you can all add your own list to the mix. Storms hit us all the time, some perhaps of a manageable type and some more of an impossible type. All are storms, and as we face them, we need to realize that we are no different from the disciples were that evening in the boat with Jesus. In fact those are the times we find ourselves praying the hardest that Jesus will be sure to join us in our boat. Those are the times we try so hard to be in tune with him to ensure that he is there to stand up and look at whatever that storm is so he can utter those same words, “Peace Be Still.”
Yes, the days that we face the storms in our lives are the days that we usually are just like the disciples who were able to turn to the back of the boat and yell, “Help! to Jesus.” Those are the days we find a way to turn to Christ with our whole being. The interesting thing, the contrasting thing about our two stories is the way David handled those storms. David as a young boy had a confidence, a self-assurance that far outweighed that of the grown disciples. David went into his storms with the knowledge that God, his Father was with him through it all. David didn’t flinch about facing the big, bragging Goliath. David knew that God was on his side, and that was all he needed. God would not only calm the seas, but end the conflict.
David had that confidence because David had a relationship with God just as we have relationships with our human fathers. David built that relationship on a day-to-day basis. Just as a father takes his son and teaches him to throw a ball, or wrestles on the floor, or shows him how to operate a piece of farm machinery, David was in communication with God his Father on a daily basis. That is how we weather the storms of life. We need a relationship with God on the good days, and then when we face the storms in life, we are able to do it with confidence and know that God the Father, through the Holy Spirit that is sent by Jesus the Son is there to say for us, Peace be still. It is because of that daily relationship walking with God, we can be confident that during the worst storms, those are the times that we will be carried safely in his arms. Amen.