The presence of my Father
Last week marked 19 years since my biological dad, Ben, passed away. I know that he loved me with all his heart, and I him as best I knew how. We had a lot of fun but life offered up a palette of circumstance leaving me afraid of him much of the time we were together. As a 10 year old, I would check the stove burners before heading to bed to be sure they were off afraid of the potential of a fire. I would lay in bed at night when in his care and plead the blood of Jesus over me, falling asleep asking the Lord to put a hedge of protection around me and angels at the corners of my bed. Many times, if I woke up in the night to go to the bathroom, I would tiptoe into the living room to be sure the fire in his cigar had died and nothing hot or red was left for me to consider before drifting back to sleep. In my 10 year old world view, alcohol knew no boundaries and I attempted to balance fear of what could be with enjoying the day and being what I was. A child. But the Lord heard every prayer. I was never harmed. There were never any accidents. I discovered unspeakable comfort in the rays of sun coming through my windows in the morning. Answered prayer. Somehow, life feels safer when the sun is up. I was a child on defense in the ugly face of alcohol, and the Lord was my Protector when I felt that my daddy should have been.
Mom remarried years later to a wonderful man, Bob, who you hear me refer to as my dad. He has been a dad to me. I never felt that the word “step” entered the equation because he treated me as his own. Even so, we never had those years where the little girl dances on her daddy’s feet and runs to see him when he arrives home from work and thinks he hung the moon. I was 15 and he was worried about what kind of boys I might want to bring home. As great as it was, the truth was that my stay under his roof was, well – it was temporary. He never had the option of a lifetime commitment to raising me, so it lends itself to being a little different dynamic of a father-daughter relationship. Ours was a bit more, father-daughter friendship and keep the boys away.
When I hear people refer to God as “their Father” I would tend to disconnect. I didn’t feel safe in my dad’s care. I didn’t have that special bond that I see others having with their fathers. I heard “Father” and I thought, Rule Maker. Finger Shaker. So I struggled. But I got to this place this past year of finally asking God ~ My Heavenly Father ~ to reveal that Fatherly side to me, because I really didn’t know what that meant or looked or felt like. But my mom adored her dad, and I knew if there was something special to be had then, even more so with my Heavenly Father.
And so it was in sitting on the couch praying one day, tears streaming down my face when I felt these arms just wrap around me, and my whole being was hushed. The sobbing stopped completely. And the sadness left me. It just left my heart as tears evaporated from my face and I sat there in my Father’s embrace. It was unmistakable.
My Daddy did hang the moon. And come to find out, He never shook His finger at me. He made a way so He would never have to. And, although He saw me hurting, he brought forth something beautiful from it. The ability to trust and love and find joy in the mundane. He just keeps speaking to me and refining me.
I guess it’s normal that everyone goes through times of feeling alone. I do. It seems weird to me that you can be married to your best friend and feel isolated and as though you have two separate lives. I think many times it was of my own accord due to depression or the buildup of emotional walls I became an expert at creating. Sometimes its just too hard to share your heart out loud. Or for me, most-times it’s too hard. But the Father has revealed Himself to me in the most personal little ways. Things I don’t share with Brian because it just seems dumb or of no interest whatsoever. His presence is made known in these ways as well and I just can never feel alone knowing He hears and sees and responds as He does! He doesn’t just hear & see us! He responds to us. He does something about it! I promise you there are no other gods of other religions that do that. Not one. They hang out all stonefaced and my God comes and hugs me in my living room.
Some people see me and say I’ve always got a smile on my face or I’m always happy and, yeah, everyone has their moments, but … really? why wouldn’t I be? I am never alone. God has pulled in tight to my heart and shown me a Father’s love and been a husband to me … He’s been my Healer. My Chain-Breaker. My Redeemer. My Provider in every kind of way. And best of all, He IS my Coming King! Truly. I have everything to be joyful about! I finally get what people mean when they say “Jesus is everything to me.” I get it.
He’s everything to me too.
I can’t take a breath without Him, but I also know I wouldn’t want to if I could.