From Dr. Bob Gerstmyer, husband of PBA President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn
To love and to be loved are two of the great joys of being a father. We have two grown daughters. I have enjoyed both loving each of them and being loved by each of them more than I had imagined before I was married. The Scriptural image of God as Father reminds me of His overwhelming love and His desire for this reciprocity of love.
Certainly our earthly fathers only mirror, sometimes somewhat faintly, God’s love as a father. I realize that for some people, Father’s Day can trigger painful recollections. The potential negative impact of a father’s words should not be underestimated. Even decades later, I have friends who (sadly) can remember harsh or insensitive words spoken to them by their fathers. Some recall fathers who (sadly) seemed to focus on their children’s faults rather than celebrating even small victories or triumphs.
In Ephesians 6:4, we read: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” The words of Colossians 3:21 are similar: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Scripture cautions fathers to be mindful of the negative impact we can have. This is a sobering realization, not to be forgotten.
On the “flip side,” the potential POSITIVE impact of a father’s words also should not be underestimated. As we express our love to our children, our words can help create a strong foundation for them, enabling them to navigate the sometimes “tricky shoals” of growing up. The positive impact of a father’s encouragement, coupled with a mother’s words of nurture and caring, can create an environment in which a child can be solidly grounded in God’s love.
Certainly being a dad brings so many happy moments to mind: from watching significant developmental milestones to moments of seemingly small — but wonderful — achievements in their young lives.
I realize it is felt by every parent throughout the year, but particularly on Father’s Day, I am reminded of the great gift dads have in being a part of their children’s lives. We can walk beside our children as they grow up and mature into the adults God intends them to be. We can offer our support and encouragement and love in a myriad of ways. Being a father is one of God’s rich blessings. So with great thankfulness, we celebrate that blessing today.