I can still see his face.  He was often a bit mystified by things I said.  Or did.  Or wore for that matter.  He didn’t like the music I listened to.  Sometimes he didn’t ask me about my day.  Or my friends.  Or – thank goodness – my grades.  He did not always tell me I looked pretty or that he liked the way I wore my hair.   He sometimes got so frustrated with me.  My attitude.  My lack of respect.  My lack of willingness to help around the house.
But I remember him that night.  In his hospital bed.  Face glowing with joy.  With pride.  Reminiscing about when I was born.   Bringing me home from the hospital and putting me under the Christmas tree.  He said – with tears in his eyes – I was his best Christmas present.  I stood there, tears in MY eyes.  Not knowing this was the last time I would see him alive.
Today our kids celebrated their dads by making Father’s Day cards.  Inside the cards, kids were asked to list five things they appreciate about their fathers.  Spending time with them while they were thinking of things to write down was super fun.  I learned their dads make great macaroni and cheese, work hard, teach them how to play baseball and (my favorite) kill snakes for them.   I got to watch as kids made their cards and then as they gave them to their fathers.  Dads who smiled.  With pleasure, with pride, with amusement.  And it only makes sense that, as I thought of Father’s Day and saw all of these kiddos with their dads, and as I watched my own children celebrate THEIR father, I thought of my own dad.
I understand him so much better now that I am older.  Now that my kids are older.  Being a parent is tough.  Oh yes, it is beautiful and a gift and such a blessing but it is also really, really hard.  And as I think of all the struggles my dad had to face (many of which originated with me) I look at him and our time together with newfound grace and appreciation.  In so many ways which I now realize, my father was so very much like my Heavenly Father.  He protected me.  And yet sometimes he let me fall and then face the consequences of falling.  He provided for me.  But he showed me how to meet the needs of others.   He taught me.  And then expected me to obey what he said.  And THEN forgave me when I didn’t.
There were times when I could not see any of the ways my earthly dad was showing me love.  And there are definitely times when I look up at my Heavenly Father and question HIM…why Lord?  When Lord?  HOW Lord?  Those are the times I forget that I have a Heavenly Father who sees me as His child.  The one He wants to protect.  To teach. To comfort.  To forgive.  Being a father isn’t easy.  And it isn’t easy for for our Heavenly Father either….it certainly wasn’t when He allowed His Son to die for us.  But when I saw my dad’s face for the last time that night, I didn’t see regret.  Or pain.  Or disappointment.
And when we see our Heavenly Father for the first time one day, what will we see?
No reminder of all the missteps and failures and missed opportunities and forgotten promises.
Just a loving Father.  Who has been waiting to bring us home.
Melinda Lamera
Sun Grove Children’s Ministry