Fathers Feel Things Too

For those who feel their lives are a grave disappointment to God, it requires enormous trust and reckless, raging confidence to accept that the love of Jesus Christ knows no shadow of alteration or change. When Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened,” He assumed we would grow weary, discouraged, and disheartened along the way. These words are a touching testimony to the genuine humanness of Jesus. He had no romantic notion of the cost of discipleship. He knew that following Him was as unsentimental as duty, as demanding as love.
~Brennan Manning

And He said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything… “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
~ Jesus, describing the Steadfast Love of His Dad, in Luke 15

Oh beloved, it is true whether you know it or not. There is a position in the G_dhead which is the most misunderstood. We might think it is the Holy Spirit. But It is not. His Name is Father.

This fool of a writer is one.

He has been blessed with six of the most amazing humans to be given to a man. The riches of knowing that my five oldest know Him (and that someday the little one will) and walk in the strength of His Great Love is something which cannot be put into words. To know that they are known by the same One who has shattered my chains and put me into His family’s service makes me weep the deep, earthy groans that a dad shares only with a keyboard, or whilst scraping his knees against the floorboards of his prayer closet.

Further, i have watched the older five launch out into the fallen cosmos and not fall away. They are catching their rhythm and developing a pace that shows they may just all run the race set before them with the endurance that only comes from His Grace.

And they are, to a person, completely their own people. They have minds and feelings and looks and likes of their own. They have tried on the various hats required by the passage through the storm and stress of adolescence. And they seem to have fitted a cap that fits each of them quite well.

Each of these five carries themselves with a certain nobility that they only got partially from me. Their moms, and a number of astoundingly good people in their lives, have imparted in them a pleasant unforgettability. You know when you have been in the presence of one of my kids. And your life is better for the experience.

Mostly though, they are humans who know how to Love. They are good friends to their friends (and to each other), and they move through life in a way that shows they know deeply what is important. They get the reality that relationship is reality’s final stuff.

And in the process of growing up, this same fool made a number of mistakes over the years that brought pain and strain to the relationship between child and father. He was quite sincere, and loved the children he had under his care. But the stewardship fell quite short for quite some time. And the time of his failure was a enough to create a repulsion and distance from his kids that has not been fully healed over the years.

Oh, the dad is whole (G_d is so good). And the kids are whole too. But the relationship between father and sons, and father and daughters is not (at least yet). Time and truth and love and patience and more time are the things that will probably make this all work in the years or decades to come. This dad will leave that in his Dad’s good Hands and just keep learning to Love.

But in the meantime… The dad who is supposed to just maintain and look like everything is OK, is just a little ripped apart on the inside once and while. He is mostly just joyful at seeing the enormous beauty of his grown children and how they have already started to change the world for the better. But, in those ongoing moments when time and distance scratch the edge of the soul, the child of the grown man cries inside.

And suddenly the foolishly selfish man that i am remembers something.  Owwww. Oh Father! Is this how you feel? Is this how you felt when i walked away from you for so many years? Is this how you feel about all the billions of us who won’t even try to listen to Your Voice? Is this how you felt when you watched Your Son die for my (and the world’s) idiocy?

So, yeah, the dad can miss his grown kids and wish things were a better. And it is vital for any of you beloved readers to know that your dad does have feelings. We are just not always very good at showing them (they are much too scary for most boys). This, though, is only a piece of thread in the intended connection this entry is designed to make.

Even more deeply, maybe tonight is the night to get a sense of how much your Heavenly Father longs for you. Oh, it is not that He needs you. He is completely complete without you. But that lack of need makes His longing for you even more pure – irresistible actually.

No, actually tonight is your night beloved. Know how much He cares for you. It is a consuming fire of Love. Time to let your Father Love you.

What peace it brings to the Christian’s heart to realize that our heavenly Father never differs from himself. In coming to him at any time we need not wonder whether we shall find him in a receptive mood. He is always receptive to misery and need, as well as to love and faith. He does not keep office hours nor set aside periods when he will see no one. Neither does he change his mind about anything. Today, this moment, he feels toward his creatures, toward babies, toward the sick, the fallen, the sinful, exactly as he did when he sent his only begotten Son into the world to die for mankind.
~A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)