Friday, September 17, 2010
The Father's Love for My Daddy
While I was in Australia this past summer, God did some incredible things in my own life, but one of the most significant moments in my time there, was when He spoke to me about my dad. Going into this trip, I had just come out of a very challenging season of my life and was still battling some lies and working though some deep hurts. Some of this hurt had been a result of my dad. I knew in my heart that I hated him and as much as i didn't want to, I didn't know how to stop seeing him the way I did. One night when we were in the aboriginal village, my project director spoke to us on the topic of forgiveness, or a lack there of. She said two things that night that have never left me. She started off with a chain (unforgiveness) around her waist, talking about how often times, we have this big breakthrough of forgiving someone and we feel like its finally done...we've forgiven them as Christ so graciously forgave us. The chain falls to the ground, no longer entangling us! But then a few days, weeks, months go by and that person, sinful nature and all, hurt us again. This creates confusion because we already forgave them right? So how could we be struggling with their hurt again, if we know for sure that through Christ we forgave once? She continues to paint this picture by pointing to the broken chain at her feet...she says that though that chain of unforgiveness is no longer around her waist, it is just sitting there, right next to her, simply waiting to be picked back up again. How easy is it for us to do just that....to forgive, get hurt again, and just reach down and grab that chain, wrap it around us again. I know that has been the story of my life when it comes to forgiveness with my dad. I forgive, chains fall off, then I slowly let him back into my life, he hurts me again, and I just reach down and grab that chain...its safe, its all I know to do since thats what I've been doing for years. It makes total sense. But what then, does that mean? How in the world do I experience hurt from him after already forgiving him time and time again, without reaching right down for that chain every time? Well, she went on to explain that we need to learn to seperate the person from the offense. This was a crazy concept to me, something I feel like I had kind of heard at some point, but never understood it the way I did in this moment. She explained that if you believe the Word of God, then you know that Jesus died for our sins, thus He even died for that offense...right? So, really, I have NO right whatsoever to be mad at my dad for hurting me, because really it is even about me...its about his offense against the Lord, and that is something that God will deal with...but for me to say that I hate my dad for this offense, isn't even an option really, because the offense is covered by the blood...so if I am mad about the offense, its like saying I'm mad at Christ, or like His blood was enough for most sin, but not for my dad. Which is a total lie from the pits of hell. So anyway, I started working out this Truth in my head and really got to the point over that week where I understood....it was liek the Lord gave me this image in my head with the chain and the sperating of offense from the offender.
We got back to Sydney later that week and I was having a quiet time, just like any other day, but this day I wasn't really focused on the Word, I felt like I was just totally being attacked in my mind and distracted. I began asking the Lord to just reveal to me what it was in my mind and heart that was keeping me coming into His Word with the ability to recieve it and to make a really long story a bit shorter, He began speaking to me about my dad. About unforgiveness, about past hurts, about prayer. That morning, God broke my heart for my earthly father in a way I had never experienced. This was definately not something I was even looking for either...I mean I had a list of things I wanted to see God do in my time in Autralia, and this wasn't one of them. Yet in His beautiful sovergeinty and perfect timing, He knew far better then I ever could have imagined what He had planned. Begining that morning, I began praying for my dad in a way I never had.
I retunred home to the states and life got crazy and confusing for me for a good month. Despite this, the one thing that remained constant was time on my knees praying for my dad. I mean there were times when I wouldn't even get in the Word for days in a row, but it was the craziest thing, for some reason I found myself on my knees intervening on his behalf. This made no sense to me, because in my flesh, it was the absolute last thing I wanted to do.
Well, as I was preparing to leave for college, my siblings had a little get-together to get to spend some time together as a family and say goodbye for a little while anyway. I hadt seen my dad or talked to him much since being home from Australia, but the day before this gathering, he called me to make sure I would be there. Instantly, I knew that I wasn't talking to my dad...I was talking to the alcoholism that had once again taken over his life. The slurr of his words and the repition of his thoughts, made it clear to me that he was a long ways down a road that was only leading to death. I remember hanging up the phone after that conversation and just breaking down in my car in the Wal-Mart Parking Lot. I was so mad at God. I did not understand what He was trying to do to me...here I am spending hours and hours praying for this man and all I see is how much worse things are getting, and fast. I hated my dad so much and doubting God became a huge struggle for me. Later that night, I remember crying out to the Lord asking Him to make tomorrow a sweet day with my familiy, not allowing my dad to ruin it.
I didn't know the whole story at the time, but that night after hanging up with me, my dad had passed out on the floor and would be unconcouis through the night. When he woke up the next morning, he crawled over to the cabinent where he kept his bottle of Vo and proceeded to drink the entire bottle stragiht up. He should have been dead by this point, but PRAISE GOD He had another plan. My dad called my brother in law to come get him and take him to the hospital because he was feeling sick. Eventually we all fund out what was really going on, and my dad was taken to a detox program. The day withe my family was sweet, and as difficult as it was to know how bad things had gotten with dad, I think we all breathed a little sigh of releif that for the next 21 days he would be safe and we didnt have to worry.
I left for school and shortly came to find out that my dad had left rehab because there weren't enough beds for him. I was really discouraged again, begging the Lord to just stop making this so hard for me. I knew I was in a battle alongside this man I barely knew anymore, but had no idea at the time what exactly this battle was about. I kept praying for him, laying prostrate before the Lord day after day. As the words would come out of my mouth, I really dont know how much I beleived that what I was asking Him to do, was really something He could ever do, or would ever do.
Two weeks ago I got a call from my precious sister-in-law, and we had planned on catching up on this day and so I picked up the phone, so excited to get to talk to her, having no idea how this conversation would shake everything I knew in a way that I cannot fit into words. She explained to me that on that past Sunday, my dad had showed up at the church where she and my brother go. At this point, he didn't have a phone because he couldn't afford it, so he just decided to come I supposse. He sat throught he serive and afterwards, my bro and sis left but my dad ended up sticking around and talking to this guy, Ed. Now Ed had known my dad's story for a while, and had been praying for him for quite some time. Ed had once lived a life very similar to the one my dad was now consumed in. Whatever Ed had to say, my dad must have just really clicked with him. Ed started talking to my dad about Christiantity, about how God had changed his life. He basiclly laid out the gospel for him. That afternoon, sitting there talking with this sweet man, my dad gave his life to the LORD!
Tears still fall onto my cheeks everytime I try to even wrap my mind around the SOVEREIGNTY of this God who so graciously calls me His own. Ahhhhhhh I just don't know why I ever doubt Him?!? Whyyy? He has NEVER, not one time, left me down. There has NEVER, not one time, been a time when His ways have not been higher then mine, when His plans have not been better then what I could come up with. I mean He is GOD and I am me....oh how different our lives would be if we just even began to understand and remember this!
How humbling, that the God of the Universe, who spoke and breathed LIFE into the earth, that this very same God would hear the cries of my heart, would tell me to get on my knees and pray, day after day, would tell me to do it again, after I got mad at Him for not answering me, would tell me to do it again when things only worsened, would comfort me when I was hurt by the situation, would so graciously continue to hear me, when I told Him how much I hated Him. And how He would ANSWER ME, when I didn't beleive He even could.
Lord, all I can say is YOUR WAYS ARE ALWAYS HIGHER THEN MINE. And I am so deeply humbled to even get to come to you in prayer, to get to know you through your Word, to get to meet with you in the secret place. God thank you for allowing me to be your servant, for being my Daddy.
In the past 2 weeks, I have finally gotten to talk to my dad and hear what God is doing in His life from Him... I have been brought to tears in every one of those converstions. Man, do we serve a God who does the IMPOSSIBLE! I've also gotten to hear about it from my siblings who have all spent some time around this man that they say I won't even recgonize...inside or out. Ed is meeting with my dad often, walking beside Him on this journey, discipling Him in the Word and teaching Him about this increible God who brought Him from death in LIFE!
I am so incredibly humbled that the Lord even allowed me to be apart of this whole process. I am so incredibly thankful to get to know this new man my dad has become in Christ. I am so increibly blessed that I get to walk through this journey with him, to get to know the real him, the man that the Lord created, and that the Lord has only given us a glimpse of His plans and purpose for dad's life. Praise God for healing and restoration, for His unfathomable LOVE and new Mercies every morning. Praise God for saving us from the brink of death,when death is all we deserve, He gave His SON so that we may have LIFE, and LIFE to the full!