Saturday, June 18, 2011

Prayer for the Fatherless

Father’s day makes me a little sad. Okay, without wallowing in self-pity, I confess I feel a lot sad. Just like those other times when I miss my dad, like weddings and birthdays or when I hear a corny joke or can’t remember his recipe for potato salad.

That gaping hole fills with sadness and never fully goes away no matter how much time passes. God has a way of showering me with love from so many other sources when I'm feeling that loss though. 

One day last year when I was very new on our church staff we had a special guest who was teaching us about spiritual formation. He assigned us a task: find a quiet corner, read a short list of scriptures, choose one to meditate on then spend a few minutes in prayer. I chose Romans 8:15

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  (NIV)

Then the strangest thing happened.

My face began to leak.

And leak.

And leak.

When it was time to regroup, my face still hadn’t stopped leaking. During my turn to share what how this exercise affected me, my face leaked even more and I had no words. You can imagine my embarrassment.

But when I got home, got over my embarrassment and had time to think about what had happened, I realized it was the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit shaking that fearful servant part of me, welcoming me to cry “Abba, Father”. That seems so preposterous: the Creator of the universe welcoming me into an adoptive relationship?

Thankfully his love is patient and persistent, unlike anything this world offers.

If you’re fortunate enough to know your earthly father, he may disappoint you even if he’s a pretty good dad. He has probably let you down a time or two or said the wrong thing because he’s human and humans are imperfect. The Father’s love, however, is perfect.

We are wise to separate our perception of the Heavenly Father from the image of our own father. It’s common for those to get tangled up together, but it’s worth the time to recognize the differences. No matter what your relationship is with your father, there's a life-giving, saving, grace-filled relationship available to you. Yep, with God--the big "g" God who made the heavens and the earth. That might take a while to settle into your soul, but it's true. I can't convince you of that though. 

This post comes with an assignment: find a quiet corner, read the scripture below then spend a few minutes in prayerful meditation. Don’t be embarrassed if your face leaks a little. It's called crying. 

"This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children."     Romans 8:15-16 The Message

Thank you for all of the men giving their best to fatherhood. Bless and sustain the relationships they have with their children.
Protect the fatherless and place strong leadership in their lives.
Send your Holy Spirit to release us all from fearful spirits and false perceptions of you.
In Jesus’ name,

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