Monday, June 21, 2010

My Two Dads

With another Father's Day behind us (this was meant to be posted yesterday, but my computer froze), I find it impossible to limit my thoughts of fatherhood to the earthly father who so filled my early years with color, humor and joy. To reflect on his influence during my most formative years leads, inevitably, to thoughts of my Heavenly Father.

Psalm 103 tells us that "Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him." This is an easy concept for me to grasp, for wasn't I once the apple of my father's eye? I doted on him, taking in his every animated expression, drinking in his every word (goofy and silly or otherwise), longing to be just like him. His talent for creating an accessible warmth in whatever environment he inhabited filled me with a sense of deep love and security.

Here was someone approachable, someone whose easy laughter wooed me into a romance of first love. Over the years as Dad introduced me to the reality of a Heavenly Father, my heart readily expanded to include this new addition into my innermost being and affections. I read or heard in a sermon that Jesus said, "If you've seen me you've seen the father," and my heart leapt for joy. What good fortune to discover the existence of a Father who was just like Jesus!

I reveled in the unveiling of this truth, for something deep within rose to meet my Father as one kindred spirit to another. I was young enough yet, and still untainted by the evil and sorrows of the abuses which loomed up ahead in my future, to respond unstintingly to the magnificence of God's benevolent love.

In writing this I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude all over again, for though I've trod many a weary mile since first I became aware of a Heavenly Father, the thrill of making His acquaintance has never been extinguished.

And what to make of those future years when my life was no longer simple, and my earthly father banished to a sort of Siberia? I understand now, though I couldn't at the time, that my Heavenly Father was no farther from me during the years of my wilderness wanderings than when I once basked in the glow of my earthly father's approbation. Something wonderful has even come of all my secret sorrows borne in that long ago house of incest, for the following verses assure me that God doesn't waste anything, not even our deepest, inarticulated pain:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Cor. 1:3,4)

This is my Father's world goes the old hymn, and oh it is so! Though bedraggled by sin and riddled with human selfishness, this world and all it contains belongs to the One who numbers the hairs on our heads. "See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God," wrote the apostle John. I imagine that none of us have but the dimmest sense of all that our status as God's children encompasses. Wouldn't our hearts faint with joy if we could fully comprehend how dear we are to the Father? Wouldn't such knowledge warm us as surely as I was warmed through and through just being in my father's presence?

The collage of my early years wouldn't be complete, or an honest representation of all that my little universe contained, without adding the component of the love of a Father whose tender mercies are new every morning. I'm thankful the Scriptures uses the word 'tender' in this verse. One would expect mercy to include tenderness but even so--as if to ensure that the point isn't missed--we have this word as assurance of how completely  we are loved of God. This verse reminds me of my days of single-mothering:  each morning a new day to be somehow gotten through with five hungry mouths and souls to feed. How often my steps dragged, how my spirits flagged at the daunting task before me. And yes, sometimes I had to deliberately summon up a merciful spirit towards my sons, especially on the most trying of days when nothing went right and it was a long time until bedtime!

What a relief to know that God's tender mercies are new every morning. He doesn't fob off on us the stale, discarded dregs of compassion from the day or week before. Each and every morning He comes to us with a fresh, never before used supply of the loving ministrations and watch care which so emphasize His loving character.

For all that I adored my earthly father he was not without his faults and sins. My Heavenly Father, the one who gave me such a father, is perfect in His love towards all of His children. His desire for our good is higher than the highest reach of Heaven.

This Father's Day I pay tribute to the two fathers whose presences grace(d) my life with their unconditional wild love.

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