Almost two weeks ago, I witnessed the birth of my fourth child, Lily Mae. Even though this was the fourth time I've seen a child of mine enter the world, the miracle never lessens in its beauty. There is nothing quite like standing in the hospital room and holding your own flesh and blood, moments after they came into the world. The entire process of birth is a wonder, evidence that in this often gloomy, messed-up world, there is still hope. Because God still values life enough to allow it to happen. I'm reminded of the second verse of Bill and Gloria Gaither's hymn, "Because He Lives," which reads:
How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives:
But greater still, the calm assurance;
This child can face uncertain days, because He lives!
It's funny, you always dream of marriage and fatherhood, but then one day you're standing there and you're the father of four beautiful children, precious gifts from the Father. I'm amazed at the creativity of the Father in designing each of our children differently, with their own special package of gifts and talents and weaknesses.
Each birth is a sobering reminder to me as a man that God has called me to be a faithful father. I am the only dad they will know. They didn't get to choose their dad. So what kind of dad will they have in me? Will I be a father who is available, who is loving, who teaches them about Jesus, who listens to their conversations, who takes the time to play with them, who cares enough to provide discipline and instruction? There's nobody else in the world who can fill that role that I've been given. It's a sober responsibility.
The other day, I was playing with Daniel Jr., our second child (and only boy -- pray for him, will you?). I was asking him, "What's your name?" And he said, "Daniel." And I said to him, "Hey, that's my name, too!" But Daniel would have none of this. He said, "No, I'm Daniel, you're Daddy."
That thought struck me. He doesn't yet understand that he was named after me, that he bears the same name as me. But more importantly, in his life I'm not Daniel Darling. I'm not a pastor or author or anything else. I'm Daddy. I can do a lot of things in my life that others consider great and noble, but none of those things matter to my son. He just wants me to be Daddy.
If you're reading this and you're a dad, you have an opportunity to push back against the crisis of fatherhood in our world by simply being Daddy to your kids. By being present, by modeling Christ-likeness, by transmitting your faith to them in a winsome way.
This job of fathering is a wonderful gift. It's an awesome privilege. Let's do our best to be faithful.
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About Daniel Darling
Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of several books, including his latest, iFaith. His work has been featured in evangelical publications such as Relevant Magazine, Focus on the Family, Marriage Partnership, Pray!, Relevant, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley. He has guest-posted on leading blogs such as Michael Hyatt, The Gospel Coalition, OnFaith (Washington Post), and others. He has been profiled by The Chicago Tribune. Daniel is a contributing writer to Zondervan’s Couples Devotional Bible. Publisher’s Weekly called his writing style “substantive and punchy.” Dan is a contributing writer to Christian Today‘s online magazine, Kyria as well as Lifeway’s men’s devotional, Stand Firm. He also maintains a blog at patheos.com, entitled, The Friday Five, where he interviews leading evangelicals. Dan’s columns appear weekly at Crosswalk.com and monthly for the local Lake County Journals. Dan has been interviewed on TV and radio outlets across the country, including Moody Broadcasting Network, Harvest Television, The Sandy Rios Show, American Family Radio, the Salem Radio Network, and a host of drive time radio stations across the country. Daniel has a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry from Dayspring Bible College. He traveled extensively to India and the Middle East. He and his wife, Angela, have three daughters and a son and reside in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
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