Have you ever thought about how many scriptures mention “Father.” Well, I have. So I thought I’d just check it out on www.biblegateway.com. Evidently, in the New International Version, “Father” is mentioned 1,103 times. “Heavenly Father” 8 times. During the months of June, July and August I have such frequent reflections of my Dad. In June we take an entire day to honor our fathers. Although he’s not with me anymore, I offer deep gratitude to the Lord for giving me a father who was a hard worker, generous, and boisterous in personality.
Three days ago, on July 6th we would have celebrated my Dad’s 70th birthday. My Mom and I spoke about what a grand party we would have thrown. Invitations would have been sent, decorations purchased and food prepared. And my Dad would have loved it because he loved being around people. People energized him, a characteristic he and my Mom shared, and one I identify in myself.
August marks the anniversary of his passing. How gracious the Lord was to take my Dad so quickly. We continually find comfort in 2 Corinthians 5:8, which says, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (NIV). We believe the moment my Dad left his earthly body he was in the Lord’s presence. But while my Dad’s earthly body remain in his office chair, awaiting the arrival of the sheriff, there was a man who sat with my Dad. That man loved my Dad. That man was my father-in-law.
On the heels of a significant loss only what is gone is felt. The ache, pain and emptiness does not allow for the possibilities of what can be. Transitioning to a life without our loved one is so difficult. The phone rings and it feels like it’s them. Them walking through the door any moment is anticipated. Reminders of their life surrounds; their clothes, their vehicle, watches and shoes, as if they’re just on vacation. In fact, I had numerous dreams exactly along those lines. But the beautiful thing about time is, as it passes, life continues to change and the Lord helps us to treasure what we do have instead of focus on what we don’t.
And what I have is a father-in-law who never fails to hug me “hello” and “goodbye.” This man whom I have known for over seventeen years, and whom I have known would never be considered a hugger, is unhesitant in giving affection as my Dad always did. He has been the most amazing Pawpaw to my kids; tea parties with my daughter, wrestling matches with my boys. If our family had a fan club, he’d be in it, setting in the audience at recitals and the bleachers at games. He has been one of my biggest supporters, helping with the kids when I was in nursing school; whether it was sports related or school related he was there to help whenever we called. And when it comes to my marriage to his son, he speaks life and promotes unity. In fact, only just a few weeks ago, he came in the middle of the day to take us to the airport for our anniversary getaway.
You see, I felt a sense of abandonment when my Dad passed. Not in the sense of rejection as many children unfairly experience, but just a feeling of being lost. This person, who had been there my whole life, who was half of my existence, who always seemed to have answers and a plan, was gone. Although I was married with a child and a baby, I still had security in my Dad. And I suppose I experienced vulnerability in a way I had never anticipated. And I confronted my identity in a way I had never been challenged before.
The Lord blessed me with strength and security, an unexplainable peace, an excitement for the future and gratitude for the present.
And my father-in-law is present in and a gift to my life. He is the mentor relationship. He gives those words of wisdom. He is the encourager and affirmer. He is interceding on our behalf. He is the parent we adult children still long for.
Father is mentioned over one thousand times in scripture. What an important and honorary role for a man, the opportunity to be a reflection of our Heavenly Father.
My life is blessed, because I’ve had two!
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