Yesterday, David’s message at church was on the “…Father…” part of the Disciple’s prayer…The Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13)
The word “father” brings up emotions in me that I can neither control nor explain…at least not in the way my heart truly feels.
Fifty-something and some years ago, I was born to a young dad. Without going into lots of details, let me just say that I couldn’t have picked a better Daddy to be a daughter to. All of my life, from as far back as I can remember to this very day, he has protected without being over-protective, provided without spoiling (well, maybe a little), advised without being annoying, instructed without making me feel dumb, encouraged without being imposing, and trusted without question. Three words pop out: I AM BLESSED. I’ve never known a man, or really almost anyone, who has loved so unconditionally. Don’t get me wrong…my dad doesn’t overlook the shortcomings in someone else’s life…but he loves them anyway, hoping and trusting for the best in that person, no matter what. He is, and always has been, a picture of Jesus..of God the Father…in my life. I have no problem seeing God as a good Abba Daddy…because I’ve known one all my life.
To add to the amazing blessing of having an amazing Christ-like birth father, almost 36 years ago I was introduced to the man who would become my other dad…my father-in-law, my father-in-love. I married his son 3 years after that. Not only did I marry his son, but I married his family…because I moved straight from my home into a relationship with three people: David and his parents. Nay, five…add his paternal grandparents to that. We traveled together, we vacationed together, we went to movies together, we ate together, we rode together, we ministered together. We laughed, we loved, we talked, we cried, we fought, we everythinged. Those first years were tough, no doubt. We found out how much we could handle living in such close proximity and under the stress of traveling from one church to another over 40 weeks of the year…spending nearly every waking moment together.
To skip all the details of the in-between years, I’ll bring you up to the last 4-5 specifically. My father-in-law truly became my other dad. He didn’t replace my birth dad, but he complemented him. I’ve always loved him undeniably, and honored and respected him, but over the past years of the trying times of my cancer and literally moments from death at one point, our relationship concreted like I believe it never would have otherwise.
He became my #1 cheerleader. I don’t care what I cooked for a family meal, it was “the best meal I’ve [he’d] ever had!” I don’t care what I wore to church on any given Sunday, I looked “prettier than I’d ever looked.” I don’t care what I sang or played during any service, it was “the best I’d ever done.”
He wasn’t buttering me up. He wasn’t blowing smoke. My father-in-law was the Master Encourager. He made me feel like not only his “favorite daughter-in-law” (I was his ONLY daughter-in-law)…but he made me feel like the most important girl in the room. And in his later years, which were far too few, he realized the treasure of family and friend more than he ever had. When I lost him, I lost a large part of me. When David spoke yesterday of the kind of father Brad had been to him, I wept bitter tears, fighting the temptation to ask God “Whyyyy!?” one more time.
As David said yesterday, when many people hear the word “father,” the most negative of thoughts accompany it. Sadly, more than ever in today’s time, a large majority of people grew up or are growing up with an absent, abusive or apathetic father. Fathers who, not only do not lead their family spiritually, but don’t lead their families at all. Who are unpredictable or uncaring at best. I work with our teenagers on Wednesday nights and there are many, especially young boys, who do not have a strong loving father figure in their life. So to these boys, and many, many other people, God being our “father” is scary. Fearful. Boring. Or “big whoop.”
But God is the good dad. He’s the Dad that every dad should aspire to be like. David gave us two things about the character of God the Father yesterday:
1) He is a caring father and…
2) He is a consistent father.
These two things alone should be enough to turn 180 degrees toward his arms. My two dads were BOTH caring and consistent. I’m also married to a dad who is caring and consistent. I have many friends who are married to and who have fathers who are caring and consistent. I pray that I raised a son that will also be that kind of father one day.
But if you were not blessed to be raised by a dad like that, to be married to a dad like that, to have a father-in-law/love like that, you have the greatest invite and do-over in the history of humankind…to be in a close and loving relationship as the son or daughter of the God of the universe…the perfect father…the good father…THE caring and consistent father of all time. The Daddy who will be to you all that a Daddy should be.
I am so looking forward to next week to find out the next character traits of God…”Our Father”………