A Tribute to Fathers – The Seasons in One Man’s Life (Paraphrased)
Dave was a thoughtful boy, the kind that notices his surroundings and responds viscerally to them. He noticed the important things, and pondered them, rejoiced in them, and stored them in his heart. He handled responsibility well, taking the tasks assigned to him seriously, finding meaning in them. Because of his age, his older siblings didn’t take him seriously, but he knew his own capabilities, which were considerable. He also loved God with a fierce loyalty that comes only when a child is aware of the hand of God on them from the womb, calling them to an ordained destiny. His pastor affirmed this, and talked to him about it, letting him know that God was surely calling him to do great things.
Sure enough, when just a teenager, Dave boldly stepped out in response to a crisis and his success and passion for justice put him at the center of a media storm. Soon the nation, tired of the depressing news of an ongoing war, was abuzz with excitement over this young man. He was invited to meet with the President and his family. The President’s son, a military man of some note, though older than Dave, appreciated Dave’s maturity and insights. He took him under his wing and soon the two became fast friends.
When Dave finished school, he joined the military and between his skill, wisdom and political contacts, did extremely well. To outsiders it may have looked like Dave was simply walking through doors that others opened for him. But Dave, in his mid-twenties, worked harder and more diligently than anyone else. His sharp mind, which had always noticed the small things, enabled him to think strategically and not miss details others overlooked. This, and his ethics, which were solidly focused on honoring God, earned him respect, something few in the often ugly world of military and politics ever got. He felt strong and capable and able to take on the world with justice and truth. He didn’t know that was all going to change.
The next ten years of his life, from 25-35, became, in more ways than one, a battlefield for survival. He married but the joy was short-lived as those at work seemed to see him now as a threat, and he was devastated by this. He kept trying to please them, but nothing he did was good enough. He began to feel hunted down, and wondered if he was being paranoid, but his suspicions proved true – people, people who meant a lot to him – were out to destroy him.
He left the military the first chance he got, moved, and found lessor work. His family was growing and he had to support them, but he soon learned he had to keep moving – on the run. He found himself in situations that were nightmares, never knowing who he could trust. People who tried to help were killed, and the guilt he felt was devastating. Hopelessness began to seep in. Honestly, it was more like a flood than seepage. There were days, no – years – when all he could do was cry out to God and beg for relief. The best he could do, after the tears and begging ended with no response from God, was to state what he knew to be true, remind himself of the years that God was faithful, the memories of his youth, when God seemed so much closer and tangible. He wrote down his thoughts and as he did so he remembered the boy he had been and how faithful God had been. Something in his spirit would stir and he would feel once again that simple joy of a simple boy alone with God. In those moments his creativity kicked in and he could praise God in ways that were breathtaking. Though he couldn’t always put his finger on what happened in those moments, it was beautiful. Somehow, it sustained him. God was still that just God he had known as boy, and though Dave couldn’t see him at work in his circumstances, he knew it was true.
During this season he knew, knew, loss, and betrayal, and disappointment, self-doubt and fear. He had relationships with other women, more than one, that did not cross into sin, but they didn’t bring him much joy or help him in the long run. His ethics and morals were tested over and over, but he always did the right thing. His heart was clean before God. And then his best friend died and in his grief and intense loneliness, that deep sense of need to make right all the wrongs that had been done in the last ten years raged within him.
Suddenly, as if the lessons of the last ten years had been learned at last, it all began to change. He walked strongly into his forties reaping the benefits of his persistence and faithfulness to God. His enemies died off, and he began to work his way back to all that he had left. The hand of God that seemed so distant, was now full of blessing. Not that it was struggle-free, but he had the gift of a life with such vital pursuits as justice and restoration as he built and grew an empire, all the while giving glory to God. He garnered respect and authority, his leadership extraordinary. His own sons watched him with these victories and were able to reap the benefits of these blessings, too. They were good, good years.
And then, mid-fifties,when his advisers thought it might be time to let others take the lead in more pressing matters, Dave made a fatal mistake. Despite the fact that he had plenty of sexual satisfaction at home, he found himself lusting after a married woman. She was the one, the one of his dreams and he wanted her. He didn’t give himself time to reconsider, he took her and suddenly the blessing of God that seemed it would never end seemed like nothing in the face of consequences. His younger self would never have recognized the man who arranged for the murder of the woman’s husband. He did this, too, quickly and without thinking too much about it.
He repented quickly, once he was outed by his pastor, but he did so thoroughly, especially after losing the infant son born from the affair. However, the justice of God, which had so pushed him on in the past, ran ahead of him the next, last, 20 years of his life. God showed Dave the rebellion that had been stirring in his older son’s hearts – the sexual sins, the greed for power, the disrespect for God. God cleaned house throughout the entire empire Dave had built, and Dave could only respond on the defensive, back on the run for a time as this played out, and mourn the loss of what he’d had and what he’d wanted for the future and the future of his sons. This time the grief and loss, betrayals and disappointments that followed him relentlessly were a result of his own actions and he knew it.
Among the discomforts of God’s justice in his last years, there were times of rest and small restorations. He had found love, and had more sons, but somehow he was a smaller man than he had wanted to be. The struggle over what he still wanted to do and what God was going to allow him to do, and not do, was hard. It was hard to let go of all this some days, that mind that saw so many details now knew so many details and it was a lot to think on. But his younger son, the one who was a good man, he was not small, he was strong, stronger and wiser than Dave had ever been, and God clearly had His hand on him, and that was good. The future that God had promised would live on through him, that was something. Meanwhile, heaven was his ever present future, and the simple joy of a boy connecting with God would soon be realized with an eternity with his God as he joined his son lost at birth, and those he had loved so much.
As his health declined in his seventies, Dave was able to look back and recognized the years of goodness as God’s blessing on him and on all those under his leadership. He had the peace of knowing his house was in order, not because of his own doing, but in spite of it – because God had put it in order. This was his desire, to be faithful to what God had called him to do, and God had mercifully granted it. In the end, we are left with his parting words, words that aptly points out the both the blessing and justice of God:
Now these are the last words of David:
The oracle of David, the son of Jesse,
the oracle of the man who was raised on high,
the anointed of the God of Jacob,
the sweet psalmist of Israel:
“The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me;
his word is on my tongue.
The God of Israel has spoken;
the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
ruling in the fear of God,
he dawns on them like the morning light,
like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.
“For does not my house stand so with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.
For will he not cause to prosper
all my help and my desire?
But worthless men are all like thorns that are thrown away,
for they cannot be taken with the hand;
but the man who touches them
arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear,
and they are utterly consumed with fire.”
Fathers, your struggles are not new, but they are real. I pray and hope you, too, will find your hope in God and that you embrace His mercy, grace, and unique call on your life, whatever that may be. May it be your goal to let God help you put your earthly house in order while your heart is focused on eternity with Him.
by Jill Cristao, Director of Connections and Communications