“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5
These past four years I have been a caregiver and advocate for my father who has needed extensive care in a nursing facility. In the last few months his health had severely declined. About a month ago he passed away. A few weeks before he died, he began trusting in Jesus Christ and was baptized. All his life he had never believed in the origin of his existence; he had never believed in God. Thus far, it was the greatest joy of my life to be there at his bedside with my pastor as my dad squeezed my hand to indicate that he wanted forgiveness for sin and to trust and follow God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Each day following, he continued to confirm his trust and peace in Christ through conversations of hand squeezes. It is in this way that he said yes to be baptized. Years of prayers by myself and many others came to fruition in the last days of my dad’s life.
I rejoice that my father is seeing The Father in heaven, that the salvation of my dad is being celebrated in the glory of God’s radiance in heaven. Still, I miss him terribly. I miss his smile, how he would look at me, the way he used to laugh and the way he made me laugh. I miss his hugs, and I miss looking into his eyes. We have the same eyes. I look into the mirror and I see him. I carry my father with me. I am who I am in part because of him.
In his passing, I contemplate that I no longer have an earthly father, but I am not fatherless. The Father in heaven has never left me, he has never forsaken me, and it is that much clearer now in the absence of my earthly father that God is the one who sustains me, loves me, and carries me. I miss my earthly dad, he will not return to me, but one day I will go to where he is – with the Father in heaven.
Through the ups and downs of the last few months, I climb into the arms of my Heavenly Father and rest. I share my joys, and I cry my tears. Friend, with your sorrows and heartbreaks fly to the arms of the Father. With your joys run to the Father and celebrate in His embrace. When you stumble and fall, don’t hesitate, run to the Father. In Jesus, He is always yearning to clean up your wounds, shower you with His daddy love, and set you walking again. He is your good Father, and He knows all these things before you come with them, but He wants to be in relationship with you and to hear you tell Him all about it.
Gospel yourself: In Jesus, you are a righteous child of the Father in heaven, with all its joys and benefits, solely based off of what Jesus has done for you. There is no greater treasure than simply enjoying the Father; simply resting in His arms (if my earthly father was here right now, I wouldn’t want anything more than to embrace him and rest in His arms). Run to Him and he will gather you into His arms in the best daddy hug you can imagine. I can imagine a pretty amazing daddy hug, because my dad showed me what it was like (a big bear hug – the best!). That hug is only a tiny reflection of the joy, peace and respite found in the Fathers arms. Enjoy.
Truth: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11
Added reflection: Some have not had even a taste of the good heavenly Father from the example of their earthly father. And even the best of earthly fathers fall terribly short of God’s absolute goodness. Here are some scriptures to meditate on the goodness of God the Father to stir our affections for what He is really like…
- Luke 15:11-32 (“…When he came to his senses, he said… “I will set out and go back to my father…” –Luke 15:17)
- Matthew 6:26
- Matthew 18:12-14
- Luke 6:35-36
- Luke 12:32 John 14:1-2
- John 16:27
- Romans 8:15-16
- Matthew 7:9-11
- 1 John 3:1
…and many more.