“…who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s… The Lord is compassionate and gracious slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is to the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;” NIV
We find in this Psalm a list of qualities attributed to God our Father and they are qualities of a loving father for his child. Reading this Scripture reminded me of the summers I worked as an obstetrics technician in the delivery room of a local hospital.
One of the thrilling experiences was watching the face of a first-time father, as I placed the newborn child into his outstretched arms, for the first time. Tears of joy overcame some of the fathers; some overwhelmed by love initially, and unable to express outer emotion soon smiled. The reality of holding his first child became his reality, now he could say I am a father.
In this moment, I saw the face of God, the face of a father in love. There are few things in life, which reveal the attributes of a loving God more than such a moment. I cherish in my heart the scene of love, compassion and promise created in these first encounters of father and child. As the father gently held his child and moved toward his wife to deliver back to her the baby she just delivered to him, I know there was rejoicing in heaven and the angels sang alleluia a child is born. For a moment, all in the room felt the presence of love, the presence of a father’s love a reminder of Our Father’s love.
I remember my father and his love for each of us. He was a giver of life, a forgiver of sin, a healer of hurts who provided for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of his children. He was a tower of strength, a man whose wife and ten children lived in the shadow of his compassionate love. He was slow to anger; correcting our transgressions without harboring his anger. The greatest punishments were those, which revealed his disappointment because of our sins yet he never repaid us according to our iniquities. Our love for him in response to his love for us caused all the pain we needed; we never wanted to disappoint him, our only fear was the loss of his love.
One of the ways my father showed his love for us was to invite each of us to go fishing or elsewhere with him, alone. In my youth, I went fishing with my father. My mother would always smiled, when I told her we were going fishing. For a long time I did not understand her smile. After several trips, it dawned on me to question why my father took, only one oar and one fishing rod each time we climbed into his little wooden boat. My Dad did the fishing and I did the rowing. In time, I began to question why my father did this and I began to regret my desire to go fishing.
I remember the day I told mother I did not want to go fishing anymore and she simply smiled. She held the secret of our fishing trips in her heart until the day I learned the lessons my father was slowly teaching to me. I learned much more than how to row a boat as we talked.
He said, “Do not allow others to take advantage of you as I am taking advantage, of your willingness to row the boat while I fish.” I was rowing the boat only because I never questioned his actions, I just rowed the boat because he asked me to. My father wanted me to learn; giving of my time and talents for the good of others is a gift of love for God and for others only, when I freely choose to give of my time and talent. Mother knew my father planned to teach me the difference between allowing others to use me because I wanted to please people, and doing things for others because it was the right thing to do or because someone really needed help. I was a very gullible child and I believed everyone is good; allowing others to take advantage of my willingness to please everyone, concerned my father and my mother.
This is one among many lessons, I learned from my father, the final lesson being on the day of his death. He was sitting in the kitchen fixing a broken wind chime for me. As I passed behind him, I had a sudden urge to turn around and hug him. I did not do this and continued up the stairs to my bedroom. A short time later my mother called to me from the foot of the steps and as I looked down at her said, “Daddy just collapsed in the bathtub come down and watch for the ambulance.” I ran down the stairs and into the bathroom to find my dad lying motionless in the bathtub. I reached for his wrist to check his pulse, knowing there would not be one. My father was dead and I would never be able to hug him again. I learned never to put off showing others our love for them. We do not always have a second chance when we ignore gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit, throughout our life. A painful lesson to learn and one I have not forgotten.
My father had compassion on his children as the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him and because of my father’s love and compassion, his children know the love and compassion of our Heavenly Father. All of his children have memories of special times when our father taught lessons we needed to learn. The love of our father extended from east to west as does the love of our God and our fear of God is as the fear of our father, a filial love which draws us to God and drew us to our father. Our father and mother have died and the lessons we learned from them continue to guide our journey toward the home of our Heavenly Father.
For all fathers I offer a prayer of thanksgiving, seeking God’s choicest blessings upon you and wishing you a Happy Father’s Day each day of your life!