“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV)
There is no argument that the greatest gift we have ever received is that of Jesus Christ’s birth, atoning work on the cross, and His resurrection. In this Christmas season, we are mindful of that Perfect Gift to all of mankind, but, we can also be distracted by the commercial emphasis in the market-place as merchants bombard us with the need for giving gifts to each other.
This Christmas, as never before, I want to focus on something of eternal value in my gift giving. So few of the gifts any of us will exchange this year will even be used or remembered by next year at this time. The gifts that we give to our children are often quickly broken or forgotten as they are turn their focus onto the next hottest item advertised by commercial interests.
A church that we previously attended had a lovely custom for its graduates, one which I had not previously been aware of. It is based on the Biblical principle of the father’s blessing. Each graduate is given a Bible and then the father (or mother, if no father is present or available) is encouraged to pray for his child and speak a blessing over him as he enters into the next phase of his life. It was a great disappointment to us that only two of the fathers in the group of graduating seniors officially blessed them. My husband was one of that small group. He spent a number of hours working on the blessing that he would speak over our daughter during that ceremony.
It is so easy, as parents, to focus on many things where are children are concerned. We work diligently to pass down to them the knowledge and skills that they will need to make their own way in the world. We try to provide them with a rich environment for learning and character development. Within the home school community this becomes a full-time occupation for at least one of the parents. However, I believe that most parents omit one fundamental gift to their children in this growth process: the father’s blessing.
There are a number of examples of the father’s blessing within the Old Testament. As a father passed down to his sons their material inheritance, he also spoke over these sons a spiritual blessing. Genesis 27 recounts Isaac’s blessing to Jacob:
“Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come near now and kiss me, my son.’ And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: ‘Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed. Therefore may God give you the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!’” (Genesis 27: 26-29 NKJV).
Clearly this is more than just the gift of material blessings. This blessing speaks into the spiritual realm something of real significance. How is it that those of us in the church have neglected something this important? What has been lost because we have done so?
Prior to my daughter’s departure for college, many people expressed their sincere sympathy about the impending loss in my life. I was told about the difficulties of “empty nest” syndrome and how I would struggle emotionally with it. I was informed that my marriage would be stressed and that I would continually weep as I grieved over her going away from me. Actually, neither one of those occurred. Did I miss her? Yes greatly, however, those moments of emotional distress were few and far between. I believe that this was mitigated by several factors. Besides the obvious grace and mercy of God, the fact that our daughter is exactly where God has ordained her to be has been an incredible blessing to us. She has not distanced herself emotionally from us, even though she physically no longer resides in our home for the better part of the year. Our marriage has not suffered either. We had twelve years of married life prior to the birth of this child which we never thought we could have. Our patterns of marriage were well established and we returned to that which we had before she was born.
My husband and I have discussed many times as to why our experience was so radically different from most of the people we know. We have come to the conclusion that this ease of transition had much to do with the blessing my husband spoke and prayed over our daughter during that graduation ceremony. In that blessing we released her into the next phase of her life. As we let go of her in the physical and spiritual realm, God gave us peace in the emotional realm. Here is the blessing that my husband spoke over her that day:
“A Father’s Blessing“
“Hannah, joy and delight or our lives, I charge you today before God, our family, and our friends to serve the LORD wholeheartedly, to seek His kingdom first, and above all, to faithfully run the race He has set before you with joy and perseverance. As your father, it is my honor and privilege to bless you with wisdom and insight, to bless you with courage and grace in the face of the challenges you will face in this next stage of your life and service to the Lord. I bless you with Divine Protection in every activity–in your daily life, in your travels, in your dance and dance training, that in every way God will cover you with His wings and keep you from all harm. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I bless you and I release you into this next stage of your life and service to the LORD, with our love and our full assurance that God will direct and protect your every step.”
This year as we contemplate what gifts we will present to our daughter on Christmas morning, I have decided that the most important gift I want to give her is a mother’s blessing. I want to speak into her life that spiritual inheritance which will have eternal value. Just as my husband and I chose our daughter’s name to exemplify one of the spiritual qualities we wanted to be most evident in her life, I want to continue that spiritual inheritance with a mother’s blessing.
“A Mother’s Blessing“
“Hannah, you are such a treasure to us. We have been blessed to see so many elements of your father’s blessing already manifesting in your character and in your spirit. I charge you today before God to continue serving God wholeheartedly, seeking His Will and His purpose for every decision that you make. As you grow in Him and walk into His Divine plans for your life, I would bless you with those elements of a godly character that He most values in women. And one day, when God blesses you, I charge you to give to your husband and children that which God has so generously given to you. I bless you with the godly attributes of the “Proverbs 31 woman.” It is His Desire, and mine, that you will be an example to all of that which constitutes a virtuous woman: that the heart of your husband and children will safely trust in you; that you will do your husband good and not evil all the days of your life; that you will willingly work with your hands to provide food and a loving home for your family; that you will gird yourself with all spiritual strength to meet whatever challenges come your way; that your lamp will never go out, even during the darkest of nights; that you will not be afraid, trusting the LORD your God in every situation; that strength and honor will be your clothing; that you will open your mouth with wisdom and speak the law of kindness; and that you will watch over the ways of your household, not eating the bread of idleness. As you walk in these godly attributes, your children will rise up and call you blessed and your husband will also praise you. It is in agreement with the Word of the Living God, that I speak His Truth over you today; that you may continue to walk in His Ways and be a living example of His Love to all those He brings into your life. As you do so, you will bring Glory and Honor to the King of Kings, both today, and for the rest of your life.”
As we think about those gifts we want to bless our children with this Christmas season, let us not forget the God’s Perfect Gift. I would also ask every parent to consider what spiritual blessing you might speak as a gift into each of your children’s lives. This is not a gift that will be quickly broken or forgotten. This is a gift that has eternal value and will continue to bear eternal fruit.
“I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of hands.” 2 Timothy 1:3-6 (NKJV)
Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved
(Edited version of original which was posted on 12/12/2010 as The Perfect Gift–A Blessing)