Dads (and practically everyone) around the world are finding themselves in interesting, unforeseen situations due to COVID-19. Many people are working from home—with their kids. God, in his kindness, has been using this time to expose some things in my heart that needed to be addressed.
This is often the process God uses to sanctify his children: he will use circumstances we wouldn’t choose for ourselves in order to expose things about our hearts and lives that are not yet fully surrendered to him.
I’ve heard it said before that when you get married, your sin and selfishness are exposed in new ways. (That’s true.) Then, when you have kids, your sin and selfishness are exposed in even more new ways. (That’s true as well.) I’m just at the beginning of this journey called fatherhood; the oldest of our three kids will be five this coming October.
It didn’t take five years, however, for my ongoing dependence on God’s grace to be further exposed. In order to be a godly earthly father, I need the sustaining, transforming grace of my perfect Heavenly Father every day. Dads, if you are reading this and feeling the weight of your inabilities and shortcomings as a daddy, I have good news for you. That sustaining and transforming grace is yours through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And here’s more good news: God doesn’t use any exposure of our sins just to kick us in the shins. He reveals these things so we can repent, receive grace and forgiveness, and put on new Christ-like responses.
Please don’t miss what I said: this situation exposes our hearts. We must be careful to distinguish between the occasion for sin and the cause of sin. While certain situations may make it easier to sin, we can never blame our actions on situations or other people. God’s word is crystal clear; the things we do come from our own hearts (Luke 6:43-45).
For me, God has been revealing I can be quick to anger with my children when they interrupt my schedule for the day. This anger has revealed itself in speaking in a frustrated or harsh tone, loud exhales, impatience, or not taking the time to truly listen to them.
What is really going on in these moments? My fleshly, rapid-fire response may point to how noisy they are being, how much they are arguing with each other, how many questions they ask, or the fact that I had to get up from my desk for the 75th time in the last hour to get something for them. But the Bible cuts through the excuses of the flesh. The problem is not outside of us, it’s inside of us (James 4:1-2). The reason I’m getting sinfully angry is because they are hindering me from accomplishing something that I want. Specifically, to complete the task I’m working on without interruptions. It’s not that I’m wanting something bad. The problem is that I’m wanting it too much. It has become a controlling desire.
To use the Bible’s language, it has become an idol. How do we know when a desire has become an idolatrous desire? When we are willing to sin to get it, or we sin when we don’t get it.
This is where the good news of the gospel comes in. Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, my right standing with God doesn’t hinge on my ability to be a perfect Christian father. My right standing with God is fully secure in the perfect work of Jesus. This means I don’t have to hide sin that has already been paid for. I can freely confess it before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Because of Christ’s death, I’m no longer to live for my selfish desires, but for him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). The indwelling Holy Spirit now gives me the power to turn from sin and walk in Christ-like ways. The gospel reminds me that I am now an ambassador for God, and this job begins first in my home.
As I seek to please God above all, I view those moments with my kids not as interruptions, but as opportunities to love and serve my family as Christ has done for me. Seeing my sinful tendency to anger causes me to pray and rely on Christ more. My tendency to impatience has made me more thankful for the Father’s perfect patience.
Most Father’s Day celebrations will look different this year. Let’s use these unprecedented times to consider what God might be trying to reveal about our hearts in this season, and to praise him for his perfect example of fatherhood.
Brady Rueter serves as a biblical counselor and men’s ministry leader at Delta Church in Springfield, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in biblical counseling from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.