An uneasy feeling begins to rise up in me, tightening my throat. I remember His Words:
“…pray then like this: ‘Our Father…’”*
I reach out and the keys rattle as they find their way into the lock. The sound evokes something distant, yet vivid and powerful…
I glanced up. Did I really hear it? Yes! The keys rattled in the lock, and, at the sound, I sprinted to the door as fast as my four-year-old legs could carry me. “Daddy!” I yelled, latching onto his legs before he had even stepped through the doorway.
As he placed his keys on the wall-hook, he smiled down at me and poked at my belly. I giggled with excitement as I followed him into the kitchen where he set his things on the table and began to say hello to mom.
“Let’s play Legos dad! You can be the aliens! Please, dad!” I said.
“Give me just a minute, Kiddo, I need to talk with mom,” he replied. I knew by his look that he would play. I just had to wait a minute – how long was that exactly? Full of excitement, I ran off to my room.
I was in the middle of building an impressive space ship, one that would rival any alien craft in the contest for Earth, when the sounds of shouting, muffled by the walls, reached my ears. How long had it been? Had it been a minute yet? The sounds grew louder. I slowly walked out of my room. The shouting was different this time. I had heard mommy and daddy fight before, but never like this. This wasn’t shouting anymore – it was screaming. A frightful feeling enveloped me; it was the same feeling I woke up to after a nightmare.
I peeked down the hallway towards the noise. I felt like I was dreaming, and my legs carried me down the hall as if they had a will of their own. Before I knew it I was standing in the doorway of the kitchen looking at them. My father, red-faced and the veins bulging in his neck, was shouting something I didn’t understand at my mother. Mother’s face was locked in a hateful grimace and her eyes were big and welled. She noticed me, her eyes turning from hate to pain, and the tears flowed. He, too, noticed me and stopped shouting. In a quick motion, he strode over to me, scooped me up, walked me through the living room, and set me down near the front door.
“I love you, Kiddo,” he said, all the violence and hate gone from his voice. “Please, don’t ever forget that.”
He opened the front door, the bright sunlight filling the room for a moment, and stepped out. He shut the door sternly behind him – the force rattled his keys on the wall-hook. I glanced up at them. I never saw him again.
I never did forget his words, but words are just words unless action is their consequence, and he never called, never wrote, never showed – and never loved.
And now keys rattle again, my set this time, as they find their way into the lock. I glance behind me as I push the door open, ushering in my wife and the precious bundle she is holding – a boy. My boy. A sharp anxiousness pulses through me. Will I be able to do it? Can I, the kid (the man, now) who never truly experienced a father, actually be a father? Again, I remember His Words:
“…pray then like this: ‘Our Father…’”*
Hope rises in me, like a spring of water, starting in my chest and flooding throughout my whole body. I can do this, and I will do this, because I have experienced a Father, the Father, who will never leave. He is the source of Fatherhood and the Standard by which all is measured. I will be a father, striving not to be like any earthly father, but to be like the Son who points us to the Heavenly Father.
“Are you coming in?” my wife asks, a curious look on her face.
I chuckle as I realize that I have been just standing in the doorway with the door wide open. “Yes, I am!”
“Come on over here, your son misses his father.”
My mouth is tugged into a joyful grin as I walk towards my new family. I barely notice as the door closes behind me and the keys rattle on the wall-hook.**
*Matthew 6:9 (ESV)
**This entry, while drawing from true experiences, is a work of fiction.
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