I remember that my father always had black licorice in an orange and yellow canister at his house when we visited on weekends. I remember that he brought me wrestling magazines when I was hospitalized for a kidney infection in junior high. I remember that the bed I had at his house had one of those bookshelf headboards with secret cubby doors that you could hide all sorts of treasures in. I remember that he collected coins and gemstones. I remember that I once found an antique diamond ring while walking with him through a park. Sadly, though I do not remember ever hearing him say “I love you.”
For many years that haunted me, it consumed me and made me a very bitter young lady. I would tell you at every turn how much I hated, yes hated, him. I have been a Christian since the age of 7 and I was no stranger to what Scripture tells us in regards to forgiveness in Colossians 3:13, that we have been tasked to forgive others just as Christ forgives us, but my father was the one person that I just could not forgive. Not for hurting my Mom, not for leaving, not for making me doubt that I was worthy of love.
And then it happened…you know that moment where you sit in the pew, everyone around you fades away, and you become pretty much convinced that the pastor is speaking directly to you, and ONLY you? I could not tell you the focus of the sermon, the scripture quoted, or who I was sitting with, but I remember that pastor recounting his own story of the disappointment in his relationship with his birth father and his joy in the knowledge that he had a heavenly Father, who would never disappoint, never be unavailable when needed, never make him doubt that he was loved. And that day, I forgave my father–he had passed away almost 8 years earlier and would never know it, if he even knew that I needed to forgive him in the first place, but I would know. I quit worrying about all of the things that he didn't do and started focusing on all of the things that Christ had done and would continue to do for me.
Now, in no way am I suggesting that relationships with earthly fathers are insignificant, there are plenty of statistics that will certainly tell us otherwise. And the Bible is also clear on the respect that we are to have for our parents. But cultivating an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father, respecting Him as our authority, relying on Him to supply all of our daily needs, will never leave us empty or disappointed.
So on Sunday, evaluate your relationships with both your father and your Father–seek to strengthen them both, offer forgiveness if needed, ask forgiveness if necessary, rejoice in the opportunity to gain wisdom from their experience, and love them both, for they are both your father/Father.