Much is said these days about how a family is built. Some insist that that family can be defined in any way they choose. More and more, the importance of fathers in the home is denied by the “woke” culture. Countless homes are fatherless.

         Yet God revealed himself in the Bible as a father. Of His many names, perhaps the name “Father” is the one in which we find the most comfort.

         Years ago, I heard a Bible study teacher say, “Your ability to have a trusting relationship with God will depend to a large extent on the relationship you had as a child with your earthly father.”  My heart sank.  Did a flawed relationship with my own father mean that I would be unable to really know and trust God?

         I was afraid of my dad. Working hard for little money contributed to his frequent loss of temper. Never quite knowing what would set him off, my mother, brother and I carefully watched all we did or said. Vacations and family times were often spoiled by an outburst of his temper.  I never chose to be alone with him.  I didn’t trust that he wanted what was best for me.

         I believed in my mind that God loved me, as the Bible taught, but I found myself fearing that He would come along to spoil the good things in my life.  When I read Proverbs 10:22 that “The blessing of the Lord, it makes rich, but he adds no sorrow to it,” I had difficulty believing that God would not “add” sorrow to the good things in my life. I pictured God sitting in heaven pondering what tragedy to put upon me.

         When I was thirty-seven years old, my mother became terminally ill.  Daddy insisted on providing twenty-four hour care at home, although he himself had suffered a stroke.  Because I lived in a different city, had a family and job, I could only be there on weekends to help.

         My mother was bed-ridden and could no longer communicate. Anxiety about spending time alone with just my dad wrenched my stomach.   I did not know that God had lovingly prepared a place and a time for me to learn what He means when He reveals Himself as our Father in the Bible.  The gentleness with which Daddy cared for his wife of thirty-seven years stunned me. Was this the same man I had feared? 

         What a precious gift God gave me during those weekends!  As Daddy talked about his life and about the pain of losing my mother, he readily mentioned his failures. I understood how much he loved me, although he had failed as a father in many ways.  As I saw the memories of the past through his eyes, I knew that I was being healed deep within my spirit.  I was able to relax and not fear his responses to everything I said. Not only did I see that he only desired good for me, but that he was capable and able to help me handle this devastating situation.

         In the familiar Psalm 23, David says “Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”  For weeks, it certainly felt like my mother, my dad, my heavenly Father and I walked through that valley of the shadow of death, but there was calmness and peace there which I could not explain. 

         When Mama died, Daddy and I cried.  He held me and said “I’ll take care of you.”  And I believed that he would. 

         Now, as I pray “Our Father which art in heaven” I have joy that I do have a Father in heaven who loves me as my own dad but infinitely more and without sin and weaknesses to spoil that love.   

         As my heart wells up in love and appreciation for my dad, how much more does it well up in praise and worship to a heavenly Father to who cherishes and loves me as daughter.  “For I know the thoughts that I have toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you an expected end.”  Jeremiah 29:11   His plans for me are good!

         Although I lost my mother, I gained a father. My dad did not become perfect, but God removed the obstacle to really knowing him as a loving father. I am convinced that God desires to reveal the perfect love of a Father to each of his children. No matter how heartbreaking the background or what the circumstances are, God can make our lives as whole as if we had always known a father’s love.  As Psalm 146:9 says “…He relieves the fatherless.”   He has a time and a place prepared to begin that revelation to each person who seeks to know Him.  Will he use a strong and godly earthly father?  Will he use a spiritual father, a Christian mentor? Will he reveal his fatherhood to a man as he learns to be a father himself?  Or will healing come through prayer and understanding of scripture, especially for one whose father has already passed on?  I am thankful that God used my own father because my healing impacted his life as well as mine, but the creator of the universe is not limited to avenues our finite mind can imagine.  It is His will that we know Him as Father so that we come to him with the trust of a small child. 

         I still doubt God’s love for me at times, falling into the familiar pattern of doubting His good intent toward me, but I have never doubted the reality of His presence with me during those weeks in the dark valley. The healing I received has allowed me to continue to grow in my faith and to live my life free from the grasping neediness and distrust of a person who has never really known a father’s love. Being secure in the love of God our Father is His will for every person. 



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