I will be talking about dads this week, since their special day is right around the corner. What would we be without them? Well we wouldn’t BE without them. As I recently watched the movie, “I Can Only Imagine,” I could totally relate to the relationship between the father and son. I also had the opportunity to watch Mitch Teemley’s movie, “The Healing River.” Both of these films had a common thread – forgiveness. When we learn to forgive others for what they may or may not have done to shape us, we’re freeing ourselves from future hurt, shame and anger.
The first film deals with a young boy who is abused by his father, but overcomes by turning to his music. Eventually the heart of his music is revealed through words of forgiveness. It was about the son’s forgiveness of the dad who had hurt physically and emotionally. Mitch Teemley’s flick also deals with relationships and forgiveness. A young man’s life is snuffed out by another young man who has made some poor choices, based on his relationship with his father. In both cases, the boys eventually were able to forgive their dads and became free to change their lives and move on to the freedom that God gives us through His forgiveness.
I’d venture to say that almost every young person has had a run in with their dad at one point or another. I recall many. My dad was not one for physical punishment, but his words or lack of them could often inflict more pain than any spanking. Like all of us, he had many problems to overcome as a child. His own father deserted the family when dad was just a young boy. He became responsible for his three siblings from then on. That explains a lot. Most of us have a dark side. My dad did too. He had a strange way of expressing his love. We never really knew how he would react from one minute to the next. He drank excessively. He worked hard to give us a Christian education. He cheated on his wife. He went to church every Sunday and had the most beautiful tenor voice I’ve ever heard. Instead of words of encouragement, he often spoke criticism. For all my years living under his roof, I never really knew him.
When I became a parent myself, God began to reveal in me the ability to forgive him for the way he related to us. I can now say that I truly understand what he was going through. Parenting is never easy, even when you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth and all your needs are provided for. There will be tough bridges to cross – decisions to be made – every day life experiences that get in the way of moving along smoothly.
For a long time I had difficulty understanding who God, the Father is. I compared my own dad with Him. I didn’t honor my father, so I couldn’t get into a close relationship with my heavenly Dad. When I had children of my own, I began to understand. I was so fortunate to have married a man steeped in the love of God, that it eventually rubbed off on me, but it took me a long time. Even though I’d been trained in God’s Word for most of my life, the idea of a Father who was willing to give up everything for me, because of His love was almost foreign to me.
Once we see what God, the Father did for us, the door to eternity opens and it makes it so much easier for us to forgive others. Even when our hearts have been hardened, God doesn’t give up on us. He loves us in spite of ourselves. As we approach Father’s Day, let’s place the honor where it truly belongs. God first loved us. He gave His Son to die for us. He rose Jesus from the pangs of the grave, to show us where we will be after our death.
Dear, Father, God,
You’ve shown us what fatherly love is all about. Your love comes with no strings. Continue to lead us through our journey by reminding us that we can always count on you. Help us remember that you created fathers to be the spiritual leaders of the family and even when they misuse that power, you forgive them. Help us learn the kind of unconditional love for one another. Bring us back to the knowledge that you are the head of each family and teach us to learn to forgive. Amen!