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Most of us know the classic Harry Chapin song, “Cat’s in the Cradle.” The emotional story of a father’s troubled relationship with his son was a number one hit in 1974 and has sold millions of copies since. But did you know how it came about? The roots of the song lie in the strained relationship between a New York politician named John Cashmore, and his son James. John was a self-made man who wanted to give his son the life of education and opportunity he never had, and he moved heaven and earth to get him into the best private schools, country clubs and a top law school. But it came at a cost.
James’s wife Sandra noticed something strange about their relationship as adults: John rarely spoke directly to his son. Instead, he preferred to communicate to him through Sandra. Later, after she and James had divorced, the story stuck with her, and when she shared it with her new husband, it affected him so much he wrote a song about it. Her husband, of course, was Harry Chapin, and the song was “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
It’s an intriguing story, and a sad one. I’m sure James Cashmore would have traded all those great opportunities for a much closer and more personal relationship with his father. Imagine the difference just a few moments of connection each day would have made!
Fortunately for us, our Heavenly Father is nothing like this. He speaks to us clearly, freely, and lovingly, and his relationship with us is anything but arms-length. We need to look no further than his relationship with his own son to see this. Jesus and his father spoke intimately and often, as Luke notes in his gospel: “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
Jesus models how we are to approach God in prayer by starting the Lord’s Prayer with “Our Father.” Later, while in Gethsemane, he addressed God by an even more personal name, “Abba,” which translates to “dearest father.” It implies the kind of affection and simplicity that exists in the love between a child and their father, whether young or adults. And it is exactly this kind of relationship that we are welcomed into as Christians. As Paul tells us --
“—the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
Through the Holy Spirit, we can know God as Christ does: as our Dad. He will never leave us, he will never forsake us, and he will always be there to listen and speak with us. And that’s the deepest reason we can all celebrate Father’s Day!
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.