The other night we were at my mom’s, and when I got home, this picture was on my camera. Because my mom recently moved, my daughter had found this picture leaning in a room against the wall. She asked my mom who it was, and my mom told her it was her grandfather. I think she was taken with the thought and took the picture to capture it.
45 years ago today my earthly, biological father passed away. He was on his way to work and died in a car wreck. I was an infant. Though I’m confident he loved me (a realization that didn’t actually strike me until after I had my own children), I never had the opportunity to know him, and that is a certain loss in my life. I often wonder what it must have been like for my mother to walk through that day, to receive the call that he wasn’t at work, to have the policeman knock on the door, to arrive at the hospital to discover he was already gone.
I’ve never had thought to write about him, perhaps because my experience of knowing him was so brief. I remember during my childhood wondering what part of me was like him. I am a lot like my mom, so I wanted to know if there was anything about me that could connect me to him. But I didn’t know him, and I only knew life with a mom and a sister. It wasn’t sad to me that I didn’t have a dad because I knew nothing different, though at times I felt different from my friends.
It feels strange to write about him. Perhaps it’s something sacred that isn’t meant to be shared. Perhaps I don’t even know enough to write. And perhaps that is sad. But there are some things that I do know that I wouldn’t have known otherwise that I remember now with praise and thanksgiving.
Psalm 68:5 says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” I can tell you that verse is true. God has been a Father to me, and I’ve always had a strong sense of Him being my heavenly Father, the one who loves and cares for me. His faithfulness to us has been so obvious, and His presence so near. He has watched over and protected me all the days of my life, and the absence of an earthly father made this reality more clear to me. I praise God for that.
My father’s family, though they did not live nearby, have always been involved in my life. We spent most Christmases with them growing up, and I would visit my grandparents frequently, particularly in summertime. They stepped in to love us and care for us, even though their son/brother was gone and we lived farther away. My parents were only married five years, but his family never lost touch with us, always sought us and invested in our lives. I know their love, and I love them, and that also is a gift.
Many men in our church stepped up to reach out to us – inviting my sister and me to father/daughter banquets or inviting us on activities with their families. What kind and generous thoughts. My best friend’s dad always showed me love and kindness, and her parents made me feel like one of the family. Others come to mind, a gift to know godly men who cared for us.
And then my mom remarried when I was 14. “Step-dad” hardly feels like the appropriate word for him as much as he was involved in our lives and how much he loved us and eventually my own children. He was a wonderful, godly man who went to be with the Lord four years ago now.
I’ve had the blessing of not just one father, but many father-figures, and knowing my heavenly Father most of all. On a day that could be reflected upon with sadness, I reflect on it with joy. As Job said in Job 1:21, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” And He has given so much more. He has given me Himself.
Galatians 4:6, “And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.'”
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that I know you as my Father, that you have loved me as your child, adopted me as your own, redeemed my life from the pit, and set my feet upon a rock. Thank you for caring for me so personally. You are this same heavenly Father to all those who believe upon your Son, who by faith trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, His death and resurrection, we are given access to you by faith. What was broken by sin was restored in Christ. And this Father/child relationship is the sweetest and most significant one we can know. Thank you that I can call you “Abba, Father.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.