Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Download MP3 (right click to save)
I was teaching at a training school for people entering youth ministry when I learned about a call home that must have been heartbreaking for the dad who made it. The school was three weeks long, and dad had already been gone for over two weeks. He was seriously missing his wife and a two-year-old son, and they were missing him. Well, he waited patiently in this long line that formed every day after classes in the lobby to get to the pay phone. (Let's hear it for cell phones today!) He finally got to talk to his wife. When he asked how his son was doing, she said, "Not too well, honey. Yesterday he came up to me and said, ‘Mommy, is Daddy dead?'" Ouch!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What They Forgot To Tell Us Providers."
That little guy was reflecting what many a child feels, the "missingness" of the man in his life. Not long ago I was talking with a friend who has been looking for a job that wasn't seasonal and sporadic like the work he's been doing, and something that would give him and his family a better and steadier income. He was on the verge of committing himself to a career opportunity that would mean better money but would take him away from home for long weeks at a time. When I questioned the idea, he said, "Well, I need to provide for my family." Hey, listen! We guys were raised on that idea.
My friend was right about being a provider for his family. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:8, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." Strong words. But still that's only part of the story. As my friend was considering a career that would provide financially but take him away from his family, he might have been missing a point someone forgot to tell us guys about being the provider. It's about much more than providing materially. Our word for today from the Word of God reveals the rest of the provider story.
Ephesians 5, beginning with verse 25, tells husbands, "Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy...and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle." See, God has established the man as provider, but of much more than a roof and groceries. It's clear that he's to provide emotionally and spiritually for his wife – to nurture her, to love and support and encourage her – helping her become, it says, "radiant."
A man is called by God to be the emotional and spiritual provider for his children as well. Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Dads are trusted by the Heavenly Father to be their child's coach, and umpire, and biggest fan, and encourager. When my friend realized a new career would rob his children of that, he changed his course to a job that would provide, not just the things his family needs, but the man his family needs.
For a man to be what the Bible calls a provider, he's got to give more than money to his family – he has to give himself. To love, to nurture, to develop, to stay in touch with their ever-changing needs, you have to be there. Many a man has excused himself from the hard but rewarding work of building his family by hiding behind the provider myth – that all is well if I just provide materially for them. right? Well, that's the easy part of being your family's provider. The big assignment is to be consistently available for what your family needs most: your hugs, your advice, your attention, your praise, your laughter, your shoulder.
Many a man who has paid the mortgage and stocked the fridge has, in heaven's eyes and his family's eyes, failed as a provider because he didn't provide himself to them. The past can't be changed, but the future is yet to be written. Be the total provider your family so desperately needs, and make the rest of your days together the best of your days.