I recently heard a song tell a story about a dad who regrets loosing his family and not fighting for them. Here are some of the lyrics:
A father never taught how to love / It seems confusing when it comes from above
Maybe someday I’ll think about what I say / Maybe some day I’ll say, ‘I love you,’ / Maybe some day I’ll mean what I say / Maybe some day I’ll say, ‘I love you,’ / Maybe I could have spoke up more
I see my empire’s fallen down / It fell for years but I ignored the sound / You’re all alone now in the middle of night / Will you beg for peace or pray for a fight?
This catchy song is quite a power-punch to the gut when you stop and really hear what the singer is saying. This is one of my favorite songs off Jesse Morrow’s new album, Things I Might Loose, which you should check out (the song is Gave Up My Love).
When I first heard the song, I immediately thought of my own wife and kids. In my self-reflection I was bothered by one question, “Do I fight with my wife?”
Yeah, we have pesky fights here and there. We disagree over discipline at times, financial choices, over which restaurant to eat at, where to go on vacation (and when), and other normal things that husbands and wives wrestle with. But this isn’t the type of fighting I was questioning.
Do I fight with my wife for our family? Do I personally fight for my kids? Do I fight for my wife? The questions I was asking demanded me to go beyond superficial answers. And I’ll be honest, it’s been a few months since hearing the song and I’m still wrestling with these questions and answers. I truly think God wants me to marinate in these questions, instead of spouting off answers and promises that I’ll give up on a few months down the line.
Which has happened all too often.
This morning, I found myself pondering again this idea of fighting with my wife, for my family. And a few starting points came to mind, all of which seemed to center around a phrase Paul wrote to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Normally this verse is used of a Christian who passes on from death to eternal life. The verse is used to speak of the person’s character and their Christian faith, it speaks of their accomplishments and their endurance. Certainly Paul had this in mind when writing these words to Timothy. In this charge, Paul was calling Timothy to take hold of his baton, to follow his example of character and ministry, to keep pursuing his faith in Christ without hesitation.
But this is what I want for my family now. I want to pass this charge on to them now, and not at my funeral. I want my kids to see me fighting the good fight – for them and with them. I want my family to run this race with me – knowing that the end is just the beginning. I want my family to be grounded in the faith – not just one that I pass on to them, but one that we are actively living out together.
Fighting in Prayer
If I believe that prayer is vital, am I setting aside adequate time to pray for my family? Am I daily praying with my wife? Are we interceding for our kids, and for the future God has planned for them?
If I believe that God is the center of my family, am I making decisions for our family based upon what I want or upon the direction of God?
If I believe that God is eternally good and faithful, am I placing within His hands all that is important to me (my family, my life, my calling) every day, and not just the times I want to feel super-spiritual?
A large part of fighting the good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith is pursuing the face and will of Christ every day. Regardless if I am in the valley or on the mountain top. Regardless if I am in the middle of the desert or safe within the pastures of plenty. I must be a prayer warrior for my family, and with my family.
Fighting in Faith
I want my kids to be used by God. I want them to follow Him without hesitation. I want their faith to be real, not generic and superficial. I want them to enjoy the same fellowship I do with the Father. But if I want this, I have to model this, and this modeling has to be a non-negotiable for me as a father.
Faith is relational. From the beginning God not only wanted a personal relationship with His creation, but He also wanted His followers to pass on a real faith to their offspring. God’s heart was after individuals and generations.
I want my kids to not only know about God, but to know God personally. They need to see me nurturing my faith with God, and they need to experience me being intentional about helping them nurture their own faith with God. At times I really struggle with nurturing the faith of my family. But then again, if I can get serious about walking alongside a bunch of strangers in their faith journey, why can’t I do this for my wife and kids, first?
Fighting in Character
Paul seems to only use the phrase, “fight the good fight,” in hiss letters to Timothy, his spiritual son. In 1 Timothy 6:12 the phrase is used after Paul exhorts Timothy to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” Fighting the good fight begins with one’s personal character (spiritually and physically). Basically, do my wife and kids see my preaching and lifestyle as being consistent, or two different things? Do I live a life worthy to be imitated? Am I modeling the man I want my daughter to marry? Am I modeling the man I want my sons to grow up to be for their wives and kids?
Am I teaching my kids to fight with their spouse, and for their family?
Am I teaching them that this fight is important, and that giving up in any form is not an option?
Am I telling my wife and kids that this fight is important to me through my actions, and that I am not willing to give up no matter the battle?
Father, as men, we need to fight with our wives, and for our families. So let the battles begin, but let it begin with me.