I love my dad. As a matter of fact, I’d go so far as to say that anyone that doesn’t like my dad has some kind of mental deficiency. One of my closest friends, who knows my family well, agrees. Is it because he is without his faults? No…but don’t tell him that 🙂 . One of the things that bothered me most growing up was how he handled emotional upsets: he laughed.
For instance, I had a cat named Stripes that followed me around like a dog. Short of being able to bark, I think he thought he was one in the canine family. He sprawled on the keyboard while I practiced my music lessons. Mum let him in my room to greet me every morning. If I wasn’t out of bed yet he’d wrap his body around my head like a pair of ear muffs and purred until my eardrums vibrated. Wherever I was, there one would normally find him. Then came the morning that Stripes did not come. He would never come again. My dad scooped him up and buried him before I saw his demise but this is how my dad handled it: “There was Stripes on the road this morning.” I can smile now but I found it highly disconcerting at the time. Being an adult, and having a husband of my own now, I guess I understand better why Dad handled many of the hard things of life with jokes, teasing, and laughter. I honestly wonder if serious conversation was modeled to him in his own life. I wonder if men in general are equipped to handle life’s heartbreaks for themselves let alone those around them.
My dad was my hero. And in many ways, he still is. I remember the evenings we spent counting out the hits we exchanged while swatting a birdie back and forth in the front yard playing badminton. When I needed a chocolate fix, we hopped in his pickup truck and he took me to the little local restaurant where I had my choice candy bar. In retrospect, I think he took me for his own sake as well as mine– a young woman needing chocolate can be quite contentious. He attended my chorus concerts. He verbally blessed me (and my brother). He was welcoming. It was not unusual for us to link arms when we were out shopping. Though he was a terrible pick–often leaving me to cry, “Mum, make him stop!”–I loved him and knew that he loved me.
My dad has given me many wonderful and memorable gifts over the years. But the ones I consider most precious are those which are priceless. Dad gave me his time. Our home had a lot of laughter that was enhanced with his mining tales that began, “There I was…” One of the most cherished gifts he gave me is tears. My dad has unashamedly cried in worship, in prayer, and in repentance in front of me. Even though he may not have initiated “deep” conversations, I didn’t doubt that I could go to him and trust him with my heart because he made himself totally transparent in his tears. Our society today has done a great disservice to men and everyone in their circle by the stigma that a man who cries is weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Men who are willing to pull back the veil and cry, and let others witness it, are the strongest men out there.
Jesus wept. John 11:35 KJV
“Oh, that’s just Jesus,” some say. “He was weak.”
No, He was meek. Meekness is power under control. There’s a vast difference between weakness and meekness.
I don’t know too many men who would voluntarily suffer rejection and humiliation for ungrateful people. I don’t know any who could endure beard plucking, hair pulling, spit in the face, punches to the body, 39 lashes with a whip that most likely contained pieces of bone, shards of pottery, etc., a crown with at least inch thorns pressed into his skull, and spikes driven into the hands and feet. Now that is a strong Man. And that strong Man wept. He walked in gentleness. He forgave. He loved to the tune of His own selfless pain.
Jesus, the Son, was the true image of God, the Father. God gave everything, everything, so that He could be our Father. He gave His perfect, beloved Son so that we could be adopted as children. What are we doing with His great grace? Ignoring it. Wallowing in our own wounds and our own pain instead of taking it to the only One who can do anything about it. It cost God everything so that we could crawl into His lap and get rid of all the sin, shame, disappointment, unmet expectations, festering wounds– everything and anything that would hinder us, but we won’t do it. It has been my observation that men in particularly won’t yield because it’s a “sign of weakness”. No, seeking help, leaning into God the Father, is one of the greatest appeals to strength that there is. To not know God as Father is to never truly know who we are. If we don’t know who we are, we will not know where we are going. If we don’t know where we are going, we will never arrive.
We had been outside playing in our big back yard. Our then 2 1/2- 3 year old twins were adorable in their jackets and matching black fleece “Amish” hats. It was cold and time to come in. I brought up the rear, following with my camera, and snapped one of my favorite pictures. My 6’3″ husband had a girl, one tiny hand clasped by one of his “bear paws” on either side of him. They were dwarfed by him, but they were safe in his hands. Nothing or no one would dare harm one of his little girls while they were at his side. What a picture of total safety and trust. And love.
Many of us have the understanding that Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” because God could not look on Him in our sins that He took upon Himself. This may be so. But I heard another take. God could not look on Jesus in that moment because if He did He would have removed Jesus from the cross and wiped out mankind because of what we’d done to His only begotten Son. But He didn’t do it. Why? Because He loves us. You. Me. But we won’t receive it. Why? I don’t know. Maybe, like me, you had a great dad but you have trouble receiving the love of God because you feel undeserving. Maybe you have issues with your earthly father that prevents you. Maybe their failings, their abuse, their being absent emotionally/physically has distorted your view of what heavenly Father looks like. Then it’s our duty, all of us, to find out who He really is.
Think about the ramifications of not humbling ourselves before God. Think of the effects on our lives. If we’re not willing to approach Father God with this prayer for ourselves, couldn’t we at least do it for the sake of those broken around us?
“Dear God, my father here didn’t look like You, not much if at all. But I want to know You, the true You. I need a dad who really loves me for who I am, my junk and all. I need somebody to be in my corner. I need somebody to tell me that they’re proud of me. I need somebody who actually believes that I have a future and it is a good one. I need hope. I need love. I need forgiveness. I need to be made whole. I need to be a light to those around me. And I need Someone to teach me how. Will You do this for me? Please be my dad. Show me who You are so that I know who I am. Lead me where You will. In Jesus’ name, thank You. Amen.”
Before you uttered His name, your heavenly Father was off the throne (in the form of the Holy Spirit), racing to you with open arms. All He ever wanted was you, just as you are. All He ever wanted was to be believed and accepted and loved. When will we give Him what He wants, so that He can fill us with all of the good things that we want, that He desires for us? We were made for so much more. When will we realize this and walk in it?
Join me today in going to God as Father while it is still light. There is a day approaching when darkness will be upon all the land. I beg of you, don’t wait until that day to seek Him.