[A Father to the Fatherless]
I was wrong—again. It’s okay, I’m wrong quit frequently. This is not self-deprecation; I’m not purposefully beating myself up. I am, however, making a confession. I get things wrong more than I care to admit, and while I don’t enjoy making mistakes, it’s often the only way we ever learn; but wrongs, thankfully, can be made right.
When I was told several times by a close friend who Andrew and I care for very much, that he didn’t know how to be a son to God (as he’d never had a father growing up), I just didn’t understand. Because I didn’t understand, I pointed out to him the friends that he had who were great dads. I pointed out that he knew what a good father looks like, but I didn’t put two and two together; instead I subtracted. I rejected and dismissed what he was saying. I wanted to help him and my heart was in the right place, but I know I only ended up frustrating the life out of him, instead making things worse.
To be fair, he does get very negative, so it can be difficult to sort fact from fiction when it comes to what he’s saying, but he was right about something; he was right when he said “Nobody understands” At least in the sense that his circle of friends weren’t understanding him.
I’ve wondered at times if I’ve been on occasion like Jobs “friends.” It seems that I spoke about things I knew nothing about. Fortunately, God knew exactly what he meant, what he’s been through, and the reason he’s struggled.
What I missed in what he was saying was this: He may know what a father’s love should look like but he doesn’t understand what a father’s love feels like. However, he will. His Father God hasn’t forgotten him, nor has He abandoned him. Because I missed that detail though, I also missed that he doesn’t fully understand the discipline of a loving father, and he’s struggling to make sense of his life.
I have to give him some credit though—no, I really want to give him this credit because there’s no way he’ll give himself the break, but he needs to know this: He’s been an amazing stand-in dad and older brother to his younger brother and sister. There’s quite an age gap between them, so I’ve always seen him as filling that fatherly role. He’s a great gift giver as well, much like His Father God, and he’s always taken much joy in the act of giving.
I’m sure at times that his younger siblings must have frustrated the life out of him, but even so, I’ve witnessed his very loyal and protective side. He’s more of a man than he gives himself credit for, and I know that he’d be right there knocking some heads if anyone messed with his family. (Andrew and I included in that family, which has been a huge blessing to us both.)
It’s amazing to me actually, how someone who’s never had that firm foundation and a father’s guidance–nor a mother’s for that matter–managed to become a man who understands what love should look like.
He also needs to know that even though his biological father failed him by abandoning him, God has and always will be there for Him. He wants him to see that he’s had a Father all along—a Father who loves him enough to actively be a part of his life.
Here’s the thing though, He fears God, and not in a good way as he puts it himself. Scripture tells us however, that there is no fear in love and that those who fear have not been perfected in love because fear has to do with punishment. (1 John 4:18) In simpler terms: he still has some things to learn, particularly about how and why God disciplines the ones He loves.
So many times I’ve read that verse without making that connection. I knew he wasn’t perfected in God’s love; his fear was very evident. However, I struggled to make the connection as to why he found it so difficult to trust God.
We’re all still on that road, trying to understand how our Heavenly Father can love us as much as He does, encouraging us to systematically let go of our fears one by one as He proves that we’re safe in His arms. He can’t, however, prove anything to us if we don’t give Him the opportunity to do so.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” –Psalm 68:5