When Pastor Cortez greeted Brent and Edna next week, Brent exclaimed, “I’ve prayed a lot about these things, and two things happened. 1, I feel at peace about my childhood, about the abuse—in fact I looked at other bad things that happened, and invited Jesus into those memories the way you showed me, and He went right into them, and stopped those things from playing in my mind. I forgave other people, and myself! Amazing! 2, I’ve decided to stay home, and find work here, or develop my own business.”
Edna interjects: “We’ll have less money, but we’re all so happy! Even Brent, Jr., has settled down, and is already acting more cooperatively!”
“Great, praise the Lord! And it’s interesting: after Peter was healed of the awful memories of denying Christ, in John 21, he took Jesus’ command, uttered three times, to “Feed my sheep” seriously. He became open to the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news of Christ, to thousands, even at the cost of beatings, imprisonment and death. The debilitating feeling of fear was replaced by confidence; weakness was replaced with courage to be a leader. I think every time he thought I denied my Lord three times, he also heard the Spirit say, Never mind, you can serve me, follow me, feed my sheep.
“As Peter was transformed from a coward to a fearless leader, so we all, fathers in particular, are changed into leaders, starting at home. Ephesians 6: 4 says ‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.’ Do you know any fathers who are actually doing this? I don’t. Even my own dad, who was a hard worker, showed no spiritual, fatherly leadership at all. In fact, I think he preferred to go drink with his buddies.
“Notice what this Scripture is saying: First, it is telling fathers not to “exasperate” their children. The first, obvious meaning of this is to be overly controlling, fault-finding and punishing, so that your kid feels he can never please you. My own dad was like this, so that as a teenager I didn’t even want to be like him. A man like this may feel powerful, but he isn’t; in fact he’s using force to cover up his weakness. I was like this for years, until God taught me that true power is influence, leadership.
“The second way, I believe, that fathers, and mothers, can exasperate their children, is by not being there, emotionally and/or physically, for them. A child feels bereft, frustrated, lonely, hungry for a father’s encouraging words, guidance, even hugs—Mom’s too— and of course, prayers—not from thousands of miles away, but up close and personal. Without this, a boy has a hard time learning how to be a man, and a girl might get pregnant, as both turn to other kids for support and belonging. The epidemic of parents working overseas adds to the epidemic of broken homes, alcoholism and teen pregnancies. That’s why I’m so happy, Brent, you’ve decided to rise up like a Christian man and take the reigns of leadership in your home, influencing your family to follow Jesus! I’m slowly learning it, now, with God’s help. We can start over, because our failures are on the Cross, and the Spirit of the risen Christ is pulling us forward! Let’s pray. . .”