A lady at one of our concerts in North Carolina told us she and her two boys were living out our song American Dream. After 17 years of marriage and ministry, her husband had quit both. The boys had sent their father a copy of the song. How sad that a child has to “send” his father anything, much less a song that basically begs, “Daddy, please don’t. All we really want is you.” What leads a man to walk away from everyone he has ever really loved—and certainly everyone who has ever loved him? I had to shake my head at the story of the tearful mother trying to hold it all together for two little ones because her husband likes the feel of sand between his toes. A little shack on the Rock wasn’t good enough.
One of the first lines that popped into my head for this song remains one of my favorites. It is sparse but powerful, communicating what is really important for dads—or anyone else—to remember: “I’ll take a shack on the Rock over a castle in the sand.“
That line describes a trade detailed in Matthew 7:24-27. You cannot have both. You’re either going to build your life on Jesus or you’re going to build it on the things you think you can control. I have a theory that control is a big part of the problem with distracted dads.
At a man’s job, he usually enjoys input and immediate feedback. He may even give orders and things happen.
It’s all professional and clinical. Everything goes through the proper channels, and everything works in that world. Then he goes home, and it’s not the same. There can be no walls or facades in a healthy home. He has to be vulnerable. His loved ones have to see him for who he is, warts and all. If dad isn’t careful, he’ll retreat to the world that he can most control. Most often, he can control his work life, and even if he cannot, there are rules. Everything is set. There is a boss, an employee, working hours, and certain requirements. That kind of sterile structure doesn’t exist at home, and dad can easily gravitate back to his controlled, professional world. Or maybe they try to treat home like work and become controlling of the family.
Just as many dads struggle to build and lead their homes, no one controls a relationship with God.
We didn’t choose Him; He chose us. (John 15:16) It can be difficult to walk this walk—to figure out how it works—and you have to step off of a cliff before you realize that Someone is there to catch you. That’s the definition of faith. This world makes much more sense to us. A life of faith is foreign to many of us because we haven’t truly lived it yet. At least the sand feels familiar. The Rock? Sometimes it seems way out there somewhere. It’s bumpy and hard and right at water’s edge. It even hurts when we fall on it.
But it sure makes for a great foundation when the storms hit.