The Love of the Father

                    I’m going to take a break from writing about what Jess and I have been reading in the Bible. Instead, I want to share a story of something that happened to me last week. Really, it’s not my story; but it’s one that I want to pass along. 

            A man in his late seventies came into my office to ask me to do a favor for him. He wanted to send in a story to a daily devotional that he reads. Knowing that I am a writer, he asked if I would be willing to write and submit it for him. I happily agreed and asked him to share the event with me. The account that he told is not what struck me most from our conversation, although it was certainly interesting. Even though it had very little to do with the submission, he shared an account of his life with me.

            As he sat across from me, he recounted many things from his childhood. I have known this man for nearly seven years and have a good relationship with him. It turns out, though, that I didn’t know much about his history or how he became who he is today. The one thing that struck me the most was a story about his father.

            Without going into too many details, my friend shared how his dad left his family when he was a kid. They didn’t speak for years— until he unexpectedly showed up one day. At that point, the man sitting across from me had grown up, got married, had kids of his own, and built a good life for himself. 

            His dad arrived and wanted to talk to him. When the man asked what he wanted, his father replied, “I would like to be your friend.” This didn’t sit well with his son. He looked at his dad and said, “I have plenty of friends; what I needed was a father.” The reason that this has sat so heavily with me is because tears streamed down his face as he shared this story with me. 

         This is a man that has, by every measure, been successful in his life. He grew up to be a great dad and grandfather, always making sure to take care of his family. He wanted to make sure that his kids never knew the pain that he felt growing up, the pain that he still feels today.

His dad abandoning him has left a wound that has not healed in seventy years. I don’t imagine that scar will ever fade. I could go on to analyze or guess how that has impacted him, but Lord knows that I am not a psychologist or therapist. All I know is that thinking about his dad leaving him still brings this man to tears. It’s a weight that he has had to bear his whole life; one that will be buried with him.    

         I am one of the lucky ones— someone who has a dad and a step-dad that have always been there for me. Now, I even have a father-in-law who does the same. Not everybody gets such a luxury in life. Many people are walking around with a hurting heart, wondering why their earthly father chose to not be the man that he should have been. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to drag that emotional baggage around with me wherever I went. 

          Thinking about the man’s story has moved me into gratitude that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and never abandons us. God as the Father is my favorite way in which to view him. Heck, I wrote a book about that. 

          1 John 3:1 says, “Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!” We are God’s children simply because he has said that we are. That is the robe in which we are to clothe ourselves every day. 

         This should be the most freeing and empowering truth that we can grasp. The God who created the universe, the one who put the stars in the sky, the one who created all things just by speaking them into existence looks at you and says, “That’s my kid, and I love more than they’ll ever know.” 

          I am not a dad yet nor are we currently expecting, but I cannot wait for that day. I will never understand how someone can abandon their kids. I am so beyond excited to see the family that God is going to give to me and Jess. If I’m being honest, it’s the thing that I am most looking forward to in life. 

         I remember when I was a kid and I had to interview my mom for a school project. One of the questions that I was tasked with asking was, “What did you want to be when you were growing up?” Her answer was that she always wanted to be a mom. Elementary school-aged Kyle thought that answer was dumb. I thought that seemed like an insignificant goal. I totally understand it now.

          I may not have kids as of right now, but I can assure you that I already love my future children. I daydream a lot about all the things that we’re going to do together. I can do nothing but smile when I think about what a wonderful mother Jess will be. I am going to do everything in my power to give Jess and my kids the best life and make sure they know that they are loved. 

         Here’s the thing, I won’t even be able to scratch the surface of how God feels about them. All those good, wholesome feelings that I have about being a father are but a shadow of how our Heavenly Father feels about us.

         No matter how hard life gets or how much we deserve it, God has not once thought about walking out the door on us. He has promised to be with us until the end of the age. He has named you as his own and done everything that he possibly can to invite you into a relationship with him. He loves you, and that’s all there is to it. He is the perfect father, and you are His beloved child.

Published by smith1626

I am the Director of Youth Ministries at St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot, WV. Mostly, I am a sinner saved by amazing grace.

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