For the last several months my fifteen-year-old son and I have been planning to take an over night canoe trip down the Colorado River in Texas. Every time we have had a weekend that would work the river has been too high. We have had a lot of rain. This past weekend we were planning to go when something else came up. We were supposed to drive to Oklahoma and pick up a friend. We decided we could camp a night in the Ouachita Mountains instead. Unfortunately, that fell through at the last minute. We thought we could turn back to the canoe trip again, but the weather showed rain on Friday and high winds on Saturday. That is not the kind of weather that makes a fun canoe trip.
My son and I have been going on camping trips for years. We both love spending time together around a campfire under the stars. He was disappointed when everything fell through. Saying a quick prayer, I asked the Lord for wisdom. I took a quick look at Texas weather and saw that the rain was going to stay east of Garner State Park. The only question was, would there be any open sites? Even in the winter Garner is one of the most popular state parks in Texas, and the weather was looking pretty good. I jumped on the Texas State Parks website and to my pleasant surprise there were plenty of sites available. The next morning, we hit the road for the 4-and-a-half-hour drive to our destination west of San Antonio.
Garner State Park lies on the crystal-clear waters of the Frio River. My son and I spent the afternoon hiking the hills, exploring caves, and skipping rocks across the cold clear waters. The hymn, This is My Father’s World kept coming to mind as we looked at the beautiful scenery. After a sausage and chili dinner we sat around the camp fire and read a couple chapters in the Bible. I am so thankful my son has developed a love for the Word of God and is happy to sit and discuss scripture.
To my surprise, the young man suddenly said, “Daddy, I am not a father, and this may not be my place, but there is something I want you to always tell other dads to do.” This peaked my interest and I asked him to proceed. My son said, “Remind fathers to enjoy their children.” He went on to tell me how much spending time doing fun things, like camping, has meant so much to him. He also pointed out an anecdotal example of another family we know that has 10 children with the youngest being 13. Most of the children are adults now and all of them are professing Christians with good character. They are also a joy to be around. The father is a Godly man that has spent a lot of time with his children, going on fun adventures. He contrasted this family with another who has had issues, and, in his opinion, he did not see the father spending much time doing things with his children that they enjoy.
I do believe my son’s observation is something important to consider. While I am not advocating that a father turn his house into a circus of nothing but fun and games, it is very important to cultivate an atmosphere of joy in the home. There must be a balance of discipline, character training, Biblical discipleship, and fun. These focus areas are not mutually exclusive. My son and I were able to have some serious discussion about defending his faith and standing up under trial. Yet these serious matters go hand in hand with doing things we love to do.
My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.Proverbs 23:26 ESV
Children will always remember the fun times that had with their dad. I believe enjoying time with a child is one of the most important tools in gaining their heart. When they are enjoying time with their father, they are often more open to listen. These are great moments when you have a unique opportunity to share the hope that is within you (1 Peter 3:15) with your own children.
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.1 Peter 3:15 ESV
Dad – enjoy your children. It won’t be long, and the opportunity will be gone.
I understand camping is not for everyone but consider how you might enjoy spending time with your children. Here are some ideas.
- Family game night
- Taking a walk in a park
- Building something
- Have a tea party (Little girls love tea parties with Daddy)
- Throwing a ball in the yard
Dads, lets enjoy our children and pray for the fruit of tender hearts toward you and toward our God.