by Roy Baldwin, Focus on the Family
What’s Causing the Breakdown of the Family?
Each and every day, as men and as fathers, we are given the opportunity to lead and love our families and our fellow men. This has tremendous implications for us today because each one of us is building something. Let’s say our “building” or “life” consists of our families, our careers, our hobbies… whatever is truly important to us. If the Lord is not building our “lives” then our labor is in vain. If the Lord is responsible, what is my role in “building” my own life and helping reverse the breakdown of the family?
225 years ago on September 17, 1787, our “founding fathers” ratified the US Constitution. The following words by Benjamin Franklin were captured in a letter penned by James Madison to Thomas S. Grimke (January 6, 1834) capturing the significance of this very important moment in time. He said, “…God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments be Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.” Benjamin Franklin’s words that we “ourselves shall become a reproach,” meaning we have not lived up to our potential. A fulfilling life or “our potential” isn’t something that is just given to us…it is something that we constantly earn each and every day in the decisions and choices we make.
We see the impact of the choices of our “founding fathers” as well as the choices we make as men, in the movie, “Saving Private Ryan.” We are told the story of a group of US Soldiers who after storming the beaches of Normandy, go behind enemy lines to save a paratrooper, Ryan, who had lost his older brothers in action. This group risks everything, including their lives, to save one life. Most of the soldiers lose their lives by the end of the film and the captain of the soldiers, as he is mortally wounded tells the paratrooper, “…Earn this. Earn it!” At the end of the film we see Ryan, as an elderly World War II veteran, and his family standing at the captain’s grave who told him to “earn this.” He asks his wife to confirm that he has led a good life and remembers each day what the captain told him suggesting that his life was worthy of the sacrifice of the group of US soldiers.
Earn it! What is the “it” in your life? I don’t think for us as men that “it” is an answer we arrive at once and then pursue it. I think it is something we need to constantly evaluate in our lives. Also, the “it” is something each of us have to figure out. Os Guiness wrote in “The Call;” “Calling is not only a matter of being and doing what we are but also of becoming what we are not yet but are called by God to be.” So, is being a good father or husband “it” for you? It should be. Our society is reaping the ills of the breakdown of the family as we know it. Have we become no better than the builders of Babel when it comes to our marriages and children?
In 1 Corinthians 9 (NLT) we see the apostle Paul give explanation to his “it” after some obvious criticism he has received. He starts off the chapter with this: “Am I not as free as anyone else? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes? Isn’t it because of my work that you belong to the Lord? Even if others think I am not an apostle, I certainly am to you. You yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle. This is my answer to those who question my authority…” He then sums up his response with in my opinion one of the most powerful reasons for his “it.” He writes, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” Are you running the right race? If you are, are you running to win it?
Earn it! Our Heavenly Father paid the ultimate sacrifice for us so that the race we run can even be won. Are my wife and kids standing alongside my race track being passive observers to my choices and decisions or are they on this track with me because I realize that I am not just running a marathon but a relay race?
Knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ is available to all of us. It is a free gift that cost Him everything. Even though we are saved by grace, do we run the race as if we are saved by that grace? It cost Him everything; He earned us the right to have eternal life and the forgiveness of our sins. Let’s go after the “its” in our lives like our “founding fathers” did; like the soldiers did in “Saving Private Ryan;” like the Apostle Paul did; so that our wives and children, and everyone who comes into contact with us, will know that the redemptive power of the Gospel is alive and well in the hearts of men and fathers everywhere.