This week we will celebrate the importance of fatherhood. The truth is fathers make a difference in the lives of boys and girls. Unfortunately, there are a great deal of children who are growing up without their fathers. Either they do not know their fathers, the fathers are incarcerated, dead, or strung out on drugs. For those men who are role-model types, this startling statistic is a wake-up call to mentor and father some boy or girl who needs a father figure in their lives. It takes a father to find Nemo.
Many of us recall the Disney movie Finding Nemo, in which an animated clown fish loses all of his wife and eggs to a bigger fish. But one egg survives, Nemo. Although Nemo has a damaged fin, he is determined to be adventurous. But his father, Marlin, is determined that nothing will happen to Nemo, and keeps a watchful eye on him, not wanting him to explore the ocean. After convincing his dad to let him go to school, Nemo finds himself disobeying his father, wandering off, and is captured by some deep sea divers. The father swims the ocean to find Nemo. Marlin encounters sharks, dangerous jellyfish, currents, and sea turtles to rescue his son. When the captured Nemo hears about his father’s adventures and courage, he gets the courage to wiggle his way through a tube to escape a fish tank.
This is the message to fathers in today’s time—we need to find Nemo. We need fathers to take on the responsibility of saving our sons and daughters, and we need fathers who love their children so much that they are willing to risk anything to save them. We have some Nemos in our society, young boys and girls, who need finding. These children are looking for role models, especially male role models that can encourage them and teach them the right way, helping them to get back on track. We are losing our Nemos to drugs, violence, gangs, and prisons.
We need to find Nemo, even if it requires us to swim across the ocean, because regardless of the statistics, Nemo is still alive. Men can find their boys and have the faith to take this risk if they are willing to show them how to be men, and be respectful to their mothers, sisters, and other women. Nemo is looking for someone who can show him the right way to live. How can we tell our children one thing, but then we go out and do the things that we tell them not to do?
We cannot find Nemo if we are telling him: “Do what I say, not what I do.” Like the clown fish in the movie, when Nemo sees his father’s courage, he in turn imitates that courage. Our boys are looking at their fathers and other men for direction and instruction; therefore, the Marlin-types are reminded to set good examples of care, responsibility, strong work ethic, and most of all holy living.
With the number of prisons being built for our children, especially boys, we need men to step up and find Nemo. Sometimes, Nemos get caught in fish tanks, not because they were captured, but like the prodigal son in Luke 15, they choose to leave the protection of their father. In these situations, Nemos have to go through some challenges and situations to realize how good they had it with their father, making the decision to return to their father.
On this Father’s Day, let us remember that our heavenly father is looking for us and ready to save us. When we find ourselves in fish bowls and pigpens, he is there to welcome with open ours.