I never thought this post would end up this way, but the sovereign providence of God has helped me re-evaluate my heart in a certain area of my life that not a lot of people know about. That has to do with the absence of my father throughout my entire life. I meant to write a post that would allow me to express my thoughts about where I am, and who God has put in my life, along with who He hasn’t placed in my life, that would hopefully be of help to someone. Let me explain.
When I was younger, I always had a hard time dealing with the fact that I did not have a father figure in my life. I would see my other friends who had both parents meet them after school or at sports events, and I never understood what that was like. I used to play tee-ball and would end up calling my uncle dad simply because of the fact that he came to watch me play (he never corrected me for saying that). Growing up without a father soon became the norm for me, and I thought those with both parents were the strange ones. I grew up watching WWF and baseball, seeing the strength and power they exuded in front of thousands.
When I realized I didn’t know how to shave or how to tie a tie, I panicked. My cousin ‘Coco’ helped me with both, and I have barely managed since then. NJROTC showed me, among many things, how to dress appropriately. There were, of course, the officers that displayed a sense of manliness that I wanted to emulate simply from the fact that I was extremely scrawny in high school (it hasn’t really changed since), and yet they, not being completely buff, still had a presence of manhood surround them. My vague conception of a father only worsened a couple years back when working at a grocery store. The other men prided themselves in being strong and doing well at their job, yet at the same time have an utter disregard for the women there (one of them told me, “You’re too Americanized and not Mexican enough because you respect women too much”). I lost all hope of finding a good father figure.
The absence of my dad has hit hard over the years, building up a dangerous view in my own mind about how I was going to be as a father. I resolved to become a good father to spite my own father, as if this would somehow shame him. It had nothing to do with wanting to please God or living in the light of Gospel truth. My kids would receive love and care merely for the sake of ruining any chances of reconciliation with him, should the opportunity present itself. Fellowship with the Father soon began to fade, which came from my distaste in fathers, particularly my own. The idea of becoming a man slowly dissipated. I was in sin, covering myself with filth as time flew by. This was one area I didn’t believe God addressed in His Word; and yet that just showed my lack of intake that would have shaped my heart and mind sooner, among other things.
The absence of a father makes you try to find a substitute, and I had none in sight. Everyone I knew became a huge disappointment, and I’m sure they weren’t consciously trying to be one. I always shifted the blame to those in authority to be my example to follow, and yet, they never managed to satisfy my expectations. My selfishness completely directed my own actions, hardly ever submitting to Christ’s Lordship in this matter, and truly searching His Word to see what He has to say.
The Gospel is this: that God created the world, and as creator, has complete ownership of His creation. We were created to bring God glory and worship Him, yet we failed miserably and are deserving of eternal punishment because of our complete disobedience to the eternal God and His Word. Our being completely unable to save ourselves is what drove the Father to display His love for us by sending His own, unique Son, to die for us, His enemies. The Heavenly Father is showing how good He truly is by the death of His own Son, and yet loves Him, and Christ to His Father. Infinite love is displayed on the cross to give God the Father infinite glory, for it shows His infinite holiness, justice, and love, all at once! Those who believe in Christ the Son as the sole Savior from sin and God’s wrath and repent of their repugnant sins are now called ‘sons and daughters.’ God the Father is now our Father, having a new heart and a new nature to seek to obey Him in love as a redeemed slave. The Son loves the Father, and wanted to show His love by obeying Him always, to the point of death. Even now, as the resurrected Christ, constant fellowship within the Trinity displays the love one has for the other, and vice versa. Do you see the implications this has on cultivating a right view of fatherhood?
This is one of the reasons I love being a member at Lighthouse, because it fosters that community of the older men teaching the younger to be an example of good deeds, since the older men are examples of good deeds, as Titus 2:7 exhorts. The instruction of sound doctrine led to a changed mindset in my own life to no longer see my father as an easy target to hate, but a sinner in need of sovereign grace, and I can’t allow my bitter feelings get in the way of the most important relationship that has been broken, namely, that of my earthly father and my Heavenly Father.
Why have I brought all of this up now? Well, I recently received a call from a cousin on my dad’s side of the family, who wanted to get to know my mom’s side of the family, and let me know that my father is still alive. I was taken aback by this, not really knowing what to say. Before, I could say, “Sure, I’d love to meet my dad; of course, I won’t be mad at him because he left.” Now, the opportunity might come and my words be put to the test. Will I ever meet my dad? I have no idea. How will I respond? No clue. And yet, now I know what I will never say: “I wish you were dead.” I hope to say, “You are dead, but you must live.” I must tell him the Gospel. That is of most importance; not who was hurt the most by him leaving, or how he must make amends. As much as he may have hurt me, it’s nothing compared to how much he has hurt God and offended Him in disobeying His Word. I am not holy; He is holy, and my father has slapped Him in the face with his sin, and that multiple times. He was responsible for the death of God’s only and unique Son, and He must be punished if he doesn’t bow the knee. God has given me a love for Him, and that creates and builds my love for my earthly father. I pray one day my father and I will have true, biblical fellowship with each other and look to the loving Father for grace and mercy, praising Him for being the God He has revealed Himself to be, and that all honor would go to Him, and never to me nor my father.