I was one of those kids who was fortunate enough to have an ever present dad in my life. I’m one of those adults who still has an ever present dad in my life, and for that I am beyond grateful. As a child he was one of those dads who was home every evening, he ran his own business for most of my childhood and worked hard at it, but he was home each night to say prayers with me before I fell asleep. In my eyes he has always been the perfect balance between tough love, hard work and affection. He has seen more, lost more and persevered more than the average Joe and continues to be all those things not just to my sister and I but to his grandchildren as well.
As a child I watched my father step in for my cousins who’s father walked out on their family. It honestly didn’t mean much to me then, I didn’t really understand what he was doing, because I never heard him talk about it – he just did it. Especially for his nephew. I have this image of my dad…putting his arm around his nephew to comfort him after my father had just lost his only son. He turned around and walked away with him so they could be alone together. In his grief he was able to offer unconditional love and comfort for his nephew, he showed him God’s unconditional love. Besides being able to offer his counsel to the plethora of nieces and nephews he had, he was the uncle who played with them, the uncle they had fun with…or he had fun anyway…I heard one of my cousins recently say to him, “remember when you wrapped me in shrink wrap in your garage?”
As an adult, you know there are a lot of people who’s parents are divorced or who have had a parent, seems most especially a father abandon them. I also know a lot of children and adults who have lost their fathers when God called them home too soon. My dad was always there, and I knew he would never leave us, it wasn’t something I ever questioned. He was the dad who sat through your dance recital but would make you check the oil in the car before you could have the keys. I don’t think I could have kept him away if I had tried. I watch my husband who resembles so many of the traits and characteristics of my father, I am reminded of the kids my children’s ages who don’t have a present father. Then I am reminded how we all have a present Father. And because I have been so blessed by my earthly father, I am able to easily connect with the love, gentleness, forgiveness and mercy of my Heavenly Father. I also know there are a lot of people who cannot. So many that have turned their back on their Heavenly Father because they feel abandoned by their father.
I was recently introduced to a Bible study called, Distorted Images of God. There is a section called, The God who Abandons verses The God who Pursues. The chapter is based on Luke 15:1-7 . It reminds us that He will always pursue us, when we are lost He is trying to get us back, when we turn our back on Him, He puts himself back in front of us. Unlike the father on earth that may stray or God calls home, He is ever present. His love for us in unconditional. His mercy never ends. His arms are always open. His heart is never full. He doesn’t play favorites. He carries us when we are weary, and loves us in all of our un-perfectness. He gave His son’s life for us. I can’t imagine being separated from my child at all. God loves us so much that he was willing to make that sacrifice for us, to save us, to save me? It doesn’t always make sense, it’s hard to wrap your mind around, I know- we aren’t supposed to wrap our mind around it, we are supposed to wrap our heart around it, that’s the faith part, the hard part. That yearning we feel that we try to fill with stuff…He created that in us to fill with His Spirit. There is healing in that, I have been a witness to those who have been broken by the absence of their dad, fill it with God, and pass it along to their own children, it is pure joy to watch that unfold.
There have been times when my children have questioned what being in the presence of God will be like. It’s easy for me to explain to them because we have been blessed with these amazing earthly fathers…it will be like when you play with dad and you are So So happy….times that by billions…it is like when you take dad’s hand in yours and you look up and he smiles down at you…times that by thousands of millions. It’s like when you are so broken and you don’t know what to do and he puts His strong loving arms around you, turns around and walks you away into His ever loving, peaceful eternal presence.