Today is Father’s Day. For many years, this was a difficult day for me. I lost my dad when I was just nine so most of the time Father’s Day was incredibly painful. When I was thirteen my mom remarried and let’s just say my step-father did nothing to take away the sting of being fatherless. In fact, in many ways he made it much worse as his own brokenness added layers of pain and dysfunction to our lives.
However God says he is a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). It so easy to take a verse like this and hand it out like a carelessly applied spiritual band-aid to those who are struggling with the very genuine heartache of losing an earthly father and/or having a father who was (or is) a very poor example of the Father’s love. It is not ever my intention to minimize anyone’s pain …
But that doesn’t make the verse any less true.
Some years ago, while talking to a young friend who also grew up fatherless, she remarked that she always sensed a special grace on her life to really know the Lord as her Father. As soon as she said it, I knew exactly what she meant because I have known that very same grace. The Lord has always been — and will always be –my Father and I know that reality in a way that may not have been possible had I not lost my own father at such a young age.
In fact, this same principle applies in another area of my life. I married young and divorced by the time I was 27. I have never remarried, so I’ve been single for over 25 years. It has not been an easy journey. But one result (a special grace, if you will) of all those years spent without a life partner is that I really know my Maker as my husband (see Is.54:5 ) and I share a special intimacy with him that, again, I’m not sure would be possible had I been married all those years.
Please don’t think I’m suggesting it is “good” to go through life without the love and security of these foundational and stabilizing relationships. God established these (and other) life-giving relationships for our good. If you have been blessed with a healthy example of one or both, rejoice and celebrate–that is the way it’s supposed to be! Not having them has been difficult in ways I would never wish on anyone (although, sadly, many do know that pain all too well), but I can also say, without even a trace of contradiction or irony …
I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.
God is a Redeemer. It’s who he is. It’s what he does. He doesn’t cause the heartbreaking things we experience in this fallen world, but he does bring beauty from ashes. And sometimes …
The beauty and fragrance that arise from the broken places–the ashes in our lives–are the most precious of all.
So today I’m celebrating. I’m celebrating because I did have a loving father for nine years, and I do have the most loving Father of all … forever. Which brings me to the real reason for this post. Way back in June of 2000, I told my “forever” Father, I wanted to give him something for Father’s Day. Immediately I found myself humming a sweet melody and quickly wrote out the words to what would become a song called “At My Father’s Feet”. A couple of years later (in 2002) that song became the catalyst for a little devotional book by the same name.
At My Father’s Feet is a collection of 35 devotions written around the themes of several songs and poems I’ve written throughout the years. I finished it at the end of 2002, printed up some copies for family and friends (which was a huge step at the time) , then put it away and never thought much more about it …
Until this year.
I took my sweet time getting to it, but it is now available on Amazon. Honestly, I didn’t want to release it. After all, I wrote it over ten years ago! I’ve grown as a writer in that time and, hopefully, I’ve grown a bit spiritually too. (I spoke a lot more Christianese back then!) But I didn’t change it all that much–I felt impressed to preserve the integrity of how I wrote it at the time. Which is part of the problem. I’m always transparent when I write, but this little book is more than just transparent–it is deeply personal. And that is why I really did’t want to “put it out there.”
But I did it anyway.
I did it anyway because it isn’t mine to hold onto. When I wrote it, I offered to my Father as a gift. And just like the proud Papa who keeps his child’s artwork on the fridge long past the time the child takes pride in it–he still seems to like this little book quite a lot. If I needed any further convincing, the fact that it just “happened” to become available on Father’s Day weekend–with absolutely no foreknowledge or planning whatsoever on my part–pretty much did the trick.
So there it is. My second book (which was really my first book) At My Father’s Feet is now available for purchase. Given the history of this particular little book, it seems rather fitting to give away anything I might make from it to those who are truly fatherless, so I’ll be donating any proceeds to one of two orphanages I have visited in Cambodia. I’ll include that info on my blog as soon as I get it figured out exactly 🙂
I can’t end without a few closing “Father’s Day” thoughts …
~Happy Father’s Day to all you father’s out there. Bless you for all you do and for all you sacrifice for your kids. And an extra special blessing to those of you who are mindful of the fatherless and, as a result, have adopted a few “extra” kids along the way–it matters more than you know!
~Love and prayers to those of you for whom this day is a struggle. Weeping endures for a night, but joy does come in the morning. It really does. Really.
~And, most importantly, Happy Father’s Day, to my Abba. Thank you for taking this broken, sad little girl–and giving me joy. I love you always and forever!
(P.S. The book is available in paperback only–the format really doesn’t lend itself to Kindle. Also, since it just became available on Amazon this weekend, the “look inside” feature isn’t activated yet, however I did post an excerpt a while back–you can read it here if you are so inclined.)