“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.” - Luke 1:76-77
Stock car racing is one of the major spectator sports in America. But it was born in the days of Prohibition, when the bootleggers, in order to deliver their illicit liquor to the speakeasies, “souped up” the engines of their cars so that they could outrun the police. When the need for such vehicles vanished with the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the hot rods were raced on the sands of Florida, and eventually NASCAR was born. Some of today’s superstar racers are the grandsons of the drivers who outran the police years ago. Paternal influence is more significant than we sometimes realize.
Wise fathers believe that the Lord has a plan for their boys and that their parental role is to help the boys discover and do it. This was Zechariah’s approach to his “little son” John. Speaking under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Zechariah prophesied that John would “prepare the way for the Lord” and “tell his people how to find salvation through the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77). He saw the role that John was to play as only one part of a colossal plan that was born in the days of Abraham (1:73). This plan could only be described adequately as “the light from heaven is about to break upon us” (1:78).
If a father believes that his parental role has been fulfilled once he provides a roof over the child’s head, puts food in his stomach, and gets him through school while watching most of his ball games, that father should reconsider. The child, from the divine perspective, is part of a grand plan in which the father has an important role. A father’s life is to be lived with due consideration being given not only to temporal and material dimensions of human existence, but also to eternal and spiritual aspects, which not only serve to form the character of the young person but also make an impact on others for their eternal good.
Clearly, not everybody is a John and not every father has Zechariah’s prophetic gift. But by the same token, no son is purely a creature of time and space, and no father is only a provider of material substance. Fathers are called to be involved in the lives of their children, to “bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This may not mean putting them behind the wheel of a very fast NASCAR race car, but it will involve putting them on the road to a very full life.
For Further Study: Luke 1:67-80