“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 4:15 ESV
If there’s anything we need today in America it’s more fathers. Not just dads who have children, but fathers willing to invest in future generations and lay their lives down spiritually, morally, and physically so that others might live free. And we’re a bit ashamed to admit it, but until recently we have not drawn the connection between fatherhood and Thanksgiving. Thankfully we never quit learning!
During the Thanksgiving season I (David) enjoy reading to my kids the story of the Pilgrims. They didn’t just sit back and enjoy the comforts of England and Holland, rather they chose to suffer that we might live free. Why? Because that’s what fathers do.
In the words of the Pilgrims’ first governor, William Bradford, “…they cherished the work of laying good foundations…and were stepping stones unto others for performing so great a work.”
Wow, stepping-stones. That’s good stuff.
One of the greatest fathers to our nation was Pastor John Robinson. He was the Pilgrims’ pastor back in Holland, and it was he who taught the Pilgrims the basis for freedom in the New World. It was his teaching that fueled their journey here and established the basis for liberty and justice for all. Just one man, acting like a true father.
Governor Bradford said of Pastor Robinson, “For besides his singular abilities in divine teachings (wherein he excelled) he was also very able to give directions in civil affairs and to foresee dangers and inconveniences, by which means he was very helpful to their outward estates and so was every way as a common father unto them.”
Read that again slowly and think it all the way through. Here was a pastor who not only understood the Bible from a theological perspective, but he understood how to apply it to all of life from a practical perspective, including in civil matters. And he also acted as a watchman to the Pilgrims by warning them of dangers and inconveniences to their freedom.
When you’re willing to lay your life down for others and seek to help them in every way, including warning them of dangers they may not see (and are very unpopular to speak), you become a father to them. John Robinson was a father to the Pilgrims, and so was a father to us all.
Where did he get this incredible picture of fatherhood? In the very book that this nation was founded upon – the Bible.
In such a fatherly way, the Apostle Paul said to the early church in Thessalonica, “You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children,” (1 Thessalonians 2:11).
Paul also acted as a watchman to the church when he referenced the prophet Ezekiel (who was called to warn the people of dangers coming because of their sin) to the elders of Ephesus, “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men; For I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole purpose of God,” (Acts 20:26-27).
It was Paul’s example in scripture that provided the foundation upon which John Robinson and the Pilgrims stepped up to be fathers at a time in history when the whole world was about to change – for the better!
So, for Thanksgiving this year we have one message: When dads become FATHERS our land will be restored. We must never forget that the land is cursed when fathers are absent – “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse,” (Malachi 4:6).
It is a lack of fathers that is hurting this nation today, and it will be a “father’s heart” revival that will get us back on track.
This Thanksgiving let’s recommit to being fathers in our nation, like John Robinson and our Pilgrim forefathers. The time is now.