Did you know that Christopher Reeve's father was a poet, philosopher, writer, and scholar of Russian literature? Me neither. While he was young, Christopher would visit his father often (who was divorced from his mother at age 4) and have Sunday dinners with his father's friends, people like Robert Frost, Robert Penn Warren, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. There are often times when I've wished for those kinds of table discussions in my youth. Check out this poem by Superman's dad:
The Unbearable Lightness of Love
Morning light pours from the whitewashed sky like golden honey, perfuming the air; by noon butterflies electrify the woods; the scent of fresh-cut hay drifts everywhere.
Ungrateful sons push old men toward death as if wealth and youth were complete success like the rings around raccoon's tails elevating them to episcopal eminence.
Imagine harmony instead, a choir of bells across the lake and in the field the sons mowing their bare backs shining, signifying: "Fathers, thanks for the field. Your lives went well." On the soft breath of early summer as the land swells and the fiddlehead ferns uncurl, I would sever the pity from the war of the journey.
Too many of us have a wound that cuts deep. A wound that comes from our fathers. FD talks about "ungrateful sons," which I'm sure many of us are. But there's often a reason we're ungrateful as well. Fatherhood is a high calling, something that you shouldn't sneeze at. Being a Father is not light work or easy load. The things we do have, if Scripture is right, long-term impact. In fact, we may be the victims of consequences that have rolled through generations. The Hebrew scriptures say it often, but none more disturbing to me than in Numbers 14:18...
"The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."
That means a couple of things:
- You and I may be the victim of generational sin, and the punishment may flow through us.
- The things we do or don't do have generational impact and consequences long past our days here.
The other really scary thing is how often in Scripture we see sons following in the footsteps of their fathers. Here's one example from 1 Kings 15:3...
"He [Abijah] committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been."
Or this one from Jeremiah 11:10...
" They have returned to the sins of their forefathers, who refused to listen to my words. "
Man. I hate those parts of Scripture. Those of you who know of generational sin in your family know why I hate them. And I fear them. Why? Because I've sinned, too, and am just as prone to sin as anyone else. I think a few years ago when I realized this refrain in Scripture, it freaked me out. Still does. But it also made me cognizant of my need for mercy, grace, strength, and the ability to stop generational sin in my family and pass on goodness, grace, kindness, love, justice, fidelity, strength, and reliance on God to the generations that follow me, for which I bear responsibility. It's time to throw ourselves on his mercy and seek his presence to redeem and renew us. That's why I love this line from Psalm 79:8...
"Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need."
You and I need to commit ourselves to stopping the cyles of generational sin in our families. We have to have the guts - the intestinal fortitude - to step up and be the leaders, the fathers, that God has called us to be. Is it possible to really experience "the unbearable lightness of love" in relationships between fathers and sons that are broken?
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