“Father! To God Himself,
we cannot give a holier name.”
There is no question in my mind that fathers are a big deal. In a family, in a marriage, and in a person’s life. And heaven knows Father’s Day is a pretty big deal in the United States.
And yet not all of us had fathers we could celebrate. I know I didn’t … not until God taught me the true meaning of Fatherhood in my relationship with Him.
John 3:16, For God so loved the world …
Ephesians 2:4-5, Because of the great love with which He loved us …
Zechariah 2:8, For whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye–
I’m convinced that no matter what type of father we had, fatherhood is important to God. One of the reasons I believe this is because after I became a Christian, the first mandate God gave me was to forgive my father.
Now let me just say right off the bat, that was no small task. My dad had a vicious temper, so when he would lose it, he would beat us with his belt, his shoe, or a cat-of-nine-tails. Don’t get me wrong — he was no bum. My dad was an eye surgeon who supported thirteen children in style, but as rich as he was financially, he was incredibly poor emotionally, unable to truly express his love to a family who desperately needed it. Which is no surprise since he himself came from a highly dysfunctional background where his mother once took potshot at his father with a gun.
When I was twenty-one, my father kicked me out of the house late at night in a horrendous fight that ended my relationship with him for three years. Fortunately for me, I had a decent job and a car, so my little sister (who was still in high school) and I went out on our own. I was an agnostic at the time, so it was a decadent period of my life where I was so angry at God that I actually used to say I wanted to burn Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms. As a wild child of the 60s and 70s, I tried everything to be happy—from astrology and tarot cards … to transcendental meditation and witchcraft—you name it. My vocabulary would have made a sailor blush.
Then one day, this annoying gal at work approached me. I couldn’t stand her because she came in every day, happy as a lark while I was utterly miserable. And then it happened—one life-altering moment when she and I were alone. She was humming, so I looked up from my typewriter and said, “Just what in the heck (except my language was a bit saltier back then) makes you so happy all the time?” She said, “I’ve been praying you would ask.”
Oh, no, a Jesus freak, I thought to myself, but I found myself going to lunch with her, badgering her with questions and accusations. I don’t remember now if it was weeks or months, but either way, I met Jesus Christ through the remarkable patience of a God-sent angel by the name of Joy—pretty appropriate name, eh?
Poor Joy — she says to this day that God gave her a superantural patience she’d never had with anyone before, and let me tell you — she needed it! I was a case, for sure, especially when the first thing she told was that I needed to forgive my father.
But I did it. Didn’t want to, but one Saturday night after three years of silence, I called my estranged father and asked if I could bring him a meal. My dad was a retired widower by that time who spent his days fishing with his black lab, Beau. I was shocked when he said yes, and pretty darn nervous when I went to his house with beef stew — his favorite. I didn’t eat with him, mind you, just brought him the meal and then watched TV with him so I could talk to him during the commercials — the only time he would speak. One of the shows we watched was the Untouchables, and trust me, the irony of that was not lost on me.
I kept this pattern of meals/TV up for a period of months, always hugging Daddy at the end of the night and telling him I loved him. Of course, he never hugged me back nor said he loved me.
Until … one fateful night that changed everything. All those prayers, all that forgiveness, all that beef stew finally paid off in a moment I will never, EVER forget. I told him I loved him and hugged him, and in achingly slow motion, his arms inched around my back in a tentative hug as my father told me he loved me for the first time I could remember.
This is the story that is the core of my latest novel, Isle of Hope. It it a story full of so much hope and healing that I cried whenever I edited it. In it, two fathers failed and betrayed their children, but through the grace of our True Father in Heaven, they become the fathers God meant them to be. Just like Him, loving us so unconditionally that we are set free from the bonds of bitterness and hurt.
To be come the daughters and children WE were meant to be.
So in honor of Father’s Day, I am including an excerpt below from Isle of Hope that mirrors what happened between my father and me, so I hope you enjoy it. In the clip, Lacey has just had a terrible fight with her father, storming out of his house. She weeps in the car, which is where God finally teaches her to forgive.
And, please, don’t forget to tell your own father — both earthly and Heavenly — that you love them.
UPDATE ON LITTLE GENEVIEVE:
WHOO-HOO, the final test came back 100% that Genevieve does not have the bad chromosone, so PRAISE GOD!! At this point it looks like sweet Gen will only need one (albeit dangerous) heart surgery after she is born that will give her a full life expectancy! But the doctors have said that there are additional tests that will need to be run in the months ahead (it’s too early to run them now) that could reveal more problems than they expected. But I am believing for a good report, be it total healing or an easy surgery, so please continue to pray for our little Gen, okay?
THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!!!
HALLMARK MOVIE THIS SATURDAY, JUNE 18, FOR ONE OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS!!
I don’t know where you’re going to be on Saturday night at 9:00 PM EDT/8:00 PM CDT, but I’m going to be on the couch with my honey watching The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter on Hallmark! Not only is Denise a dear friend, but she is one of my TOP FIVE FAVE authors in the CBA, so if you haven’t read her yet, you need to. I absolutely LOVED The Convenient Groom, and the good news is that it’s on sale now for only $1.99, so do check it out. And if you want a sneak peek at the movie, check it out HERE!
ISLE OF HOPE BY JULIE LESSMAN
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.