It happened one summer day when I was at Dad’s house. He lived deep in the desert. We were roofing the addition to the house he shared with his new wife. The sun blistered us with 105 degrees of pure hell as I slapped down the black shingles and Dad nailed them to their resting place.
Dad stopped for a moment to wipe the sweat from his face and said, “I’m sure a 14-year-old boy would rather be out having fun, but I love doing this.” He picked up his hammer and continued pounding nails. He was right–this wasn’t how I pictured visiting Dad.
“Who is this strange man? Who could love sweating like a pig roasting over a barbecue pit? WHO is this man I call Dad?
I longed for his approval my whole life. The absence of his demonstration of how a man acts left a crater-like hole in my soul. Psychologists say that children who grow up in a one-parent home fill that empty space with anger. I am living proof of that adage.
Dad moved out when I was age 5. Afterwards I saw him once or twice a year after. As a teenager, I often imagined how I was going to tell him off when he came to visit at Christmastime. But the moment he walked in the door, all that anger evaporated and I ran to him. An hour after he left, my old friend depression crept back in with his evil twin resentment.
Thirty-five years and thousands of miles of distance did little to soothe our strained relationship, until my nephew asked me to perform his wedding. The family all traveled to Colorado for the weekend of festivities. My sister Linda randomly won the Coca-Cola Challenge and three tickets to a Colorado Rockies baseball game two nights before the wedding.
Dad, Linda and I went to the game with the requirement that one of us run in the Coca-Cola Challenge. I was the only one healthy enough to compete.
A beautiful Rockies official escorted me to the team’s bullpen and prepared me for the Challenge during the seventh inning stretch. “By the way, this game is being televised nationally,” she said. She also explained the contest involved running from the left field wall, tagging second base, and continuing to the first baseline in less than 25 seconds to win.
Boom! Blasted the starting gun. My forty-eight-year-old legs struggled mightily. The crowd of 35,000 people roared their encouragement as the TV cameras rolled. I won with my lungs sucking air like a lung-cancer survivor and the crowd cheering wildly.
As beautiful Rockies’ representative escorted me back to my seat, the jumbotron scoreboard replayed my victory run. It all felt surreal as we approached my seating section. I could see Dad watching the jumbotron and waving his ball cap excitedly from his wheelchair. My mind raced back to my little league days as a ballplayer. Hundreds of times I had looked toward the stands, longing to see Dad, only to be disappointed at his absence. Now, here he is.
Dad casually mentioned on the ride home from the stadium that this was the first time he attended a baseball game. I realized then how much he had missed. Under the cruel shadow of divorce, son missed father and father missed son.
The rare air of tranquility enveloped us as we each accepted the journey of our lives. We loved each other despite it all and, in the end, that’s what matters. Reconciliation has to do with accepting your losses and kicking anger to the curb. Resentment and regret only steal your joy. Forging a new future based on peace allows love to emerge.
Similarly, humanity lost itself in all the crap of life. Alienated from God the Father, we had no path to return to Him. Until Jesus came and dealt with the vast void of sin at the cross. Christ created a new beginning based on peace, “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:11, (NIV.)
1 John 4 further explains, “This is love: He loved us long before we loved Him.” And concludes, “Everyone who loves is Fathered by God.”
I’ve come to appreciate my Dad, but Father God is the daddy I never had. My heart is whole and filled with the love of God and love for my Dad.
Dave Holland pastored churches for 38 years before retiring in Destin. He recently released his new devotional-Bible study based on the Gospel of Luke titled “Extraordinary Jesus: Ignite Your Season of Miracles.” You can get a copy of this book from his website, DaveHolland.org, or at Amazon.com. Pastor Dave is available to preach and teach in churches and conferences. Contact him at DavidvHolland54@gmail.com.