by Rev. Terry R. Forke
I was in the sixth grade and I had just made a startling discovery. It didn’t occur to me that sixth-graders rarely make startling discoveries that have escaped the rest of mankind, so I was anxious to share my wisdom with my father. I felt I was on the verge of settling an ancient dispute between the Church and science. Mrs. McMahon, my teacher, had just reviewed a geological chart of the ages. With uncharacteristic insight I noticed that the geological ages, and the corresponding plant and animal forms, were somewhat similar to the days of creation.
That evening, after further study, I opened my science textbook and explained my new theory to my father. He listened carefully as I twisted each testimony (Scripture and textbook) to fit my theory and make a neat little compromise. “What if,” I said, “the days of creation were actually thousands or millions of years long?” His answer is engraved in my mind as if it happened yesterday: “This,” he said, picking up the science textbook, “is the word of men. It is filled with ideas that men have devised. Those ideas will change. This,” he added, touching the Bible, “is the Word of God. It is the truth. Its truth will never change. We don’t try to make the Word of God fit with the words of men.” I received those words for what they were, very wise words from a loving father.
My father’s wisdom waned in the ensuing years. In fact, there were days when I was surprised he knew anything at all. Yet, in spite of my teenage rebellion, that moment, those words that pointed me to the Word, stuck with me. In fact, I have now come to believe that those words moved me toward my current station in life. The words of my father pointed me to the Word of my Father.
What greater service can a father render to his children than to point them to their Father’s Word? So Moses instructed the fathers of Israel in his day:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:6–9 ESV)
Unfortunately, we fathers often point our children to anything but the Word of God. There are so many idols competing to be the source and center of life we sometimes get confused and, yes, rebellious. We want our children to be successful and happy. We often believe this will require a little deviance from the truth of the Word. There is no excuse for this. There is only, upon repentance, forgiveness and new life through the sacrifice of Jesus.
That new life looks like what the words of Moses describe, a father talks to his children about the Word of the Father. I once heard this excuse from a father who did not want to teach his children the truth: “When I was a kid I had religion crammed down my throat. So I am just going to let my kids decide for themselves.”
Upon questioning, I found that what really happened was that when he was a kid, he was dropped off at Sunday School while his parents went to the donut shop. There was no conversation regarding the Word of God in the home. There was little connection between the words of the father and the Word of the Father. What is a child to think?
Here is a precious gift. God has given us His Word. The Word of God is living and life-giving because faith comes by hearing it. It is not difficult for a father to pass this gift on to his children. It might be as simple as saying, “These are the words of men, and this is the Word