Knock on our front door and you’ll find yourself staring at a plaque containing the following quote of Joshua (of wall falling fame): “AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD,” an appropriate goal for any father at any time, but an especially fitting one to ponder on Father’s Day.
Who was this committed father whose words expressing his family goal remain familiar to millions after all these years?
Joshua had lived an exciting and sometimes dangerous life. He had worked as a spy, served as top assistant to Moses, became the leader of his nation after the death of Moses, was an extremely successful military leader and a possessor of such strong faith that even the walls of mighty Jericho fell before him as he obediently followed the strange orders issued to him from Headquarters. But his greatest goal in life was the acceptance of his faith by his family so they could serve the Lord together.
We don’t know how many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren made up Joshua’s descendents. His life spanned one hundred ten years so it’s likely his conviction that his entire family would serve the Lord encompassed a large number of people, but his faith was up to the occasion so he included them all in his now famous declaration.
Does this mean that Joshua’s entire family immediately embraced his faith, never rebelled and always walked with God? Probably not! Human nature and God’s respect for our individuality prevent cookie cutter conversion experiences. Nevertheless, complete family commitment was his goal and he expected his prayer to ultimately be answered so he declared his confidence it would happen in concise terms that have endured the test of time.
Joshua’s powerful position may have been an obstacle to members of his family following his advice or desiring his reputation as a man who walked with God. Barriers to his direction by his children may have seemed higher and more difficult to scale than the walls of Jericho, but those solid walls had been broken down by faith so why not these emotional ones?
Some of Joshua’s family may have been wayward as year 110 approached and this determined conqueror on his deathbed may have said through gritted teeth: “We will serve the Lord,” even if it meant some would come to faith and be involved in the service of God after he was gone.
Mothers have gained the respect of the world for their powerful praying. Most can name mothers whose prayers have made a difference: Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley; the mother of John Newton whose son went from being a slave trader to a minister of the gospel and wrote “Amazing Grace,” and others.
But Fathers pray too. And we ought to honor them for their faith and faithfulness.
Jesus told His hearers about the prodigal son whose journey to the far country moved his father to pray for and expect his return.
This would be a good day to tell your father how much you appreciate him.
And, if you’re a prodigal, it’s time to answer your father’s prayers by respecting his faith and heading home.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.