Joel 2:25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…
Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
I have been away from my blog post for far too long. Basic summation of the last two weeks in 15 words or less. “Quit Job. Changed Brain Modes. Visited Dad. Embarked on a Journey of God’s design.” For the past few weeks, full time ministry has seemed to take a backseat to hedge trimming, desk painting, lawn mowing, errand running and garage cleaning. Then I felt infinitely better when one of the guys I’m mentoring said, “You’re just getting your house in order.” He was either trying to console me or preparing me for death. I’ll choose the former.
The visit with my dad was good. It was filled with moments of frustration, moments of revelation and times of sadness. It was the first time my father and I have really spent time alone since he visited me in Galveston, Texas way back in 1995. My dad drove 750 miles for that visit to rescue a son he saw heading in a bad direction. I was planning a commitment ceremony with my current partner and my father risked his reputation and popularity in order to share the gospel with me, one more time. He even shared the gospel with my partner while I was at work. Looking back now, the feelings of anger I felt in that moment have given way to admiration and respect for a man who was way ahead of his time. My father was the first missionary I knew. He traveled to the foreign land of homosexuality where I had set up camp and brought the word of life to a savage and hostile people.
So last week as we sat alone in the living room of my childhood home, we were still strangers, seemingly at odds with one another. Strangers with a shared history, but an uncertain future. I had made the trip quite honestly at the behest of God. Not to be harsh, but I simply I thought I was sent to assess my father’s expiration date. One of the most awkward moments was helping my own father, write out his will. I wasn’t sad then, but as I write it now, something deep in my soul screams “NOOOOO” as every cell cries out in desperation for more time to get to know a man I know very little about. We were alone, because my mom has passed on and my brother’s misguided life has landed him in jail again for what may be the final time. Yet as I sat there with the obstacles of humanity removed as barriers to our connection, I still stared across the living room and wondered, “Who is this man?” while simultaneously wanting to run away as I had always done when it came to my father.
God is my God. I find it hard to trust Him in situations when it comes to my dad. Betrayal registers in my mind right alongside obedience and I find myself going to areas of my mind for comfort and solace from the resolution that God seeks. Yet I remain. I pursue this man who never really pursued me until I was older and had fashioned a life beyond the borders of a “loving father”.
Then God goes and does something amazing, as I sit and wait, tears rolling down my cheeks as my soul feels like it’s been set ablaze. My father called me a few days back. The convo was short and sweet, but it came with a conquering flood that extinguished the smoldering remains of my emotions. He chose me. Finally, after years of looking to my father for recognition, love, ANYTHING, he chose me. As he spoke to me of my older brother and the consequences of his latest violation, my father said that he had come to a decision about what to do about my brother. My father told his own brother something to this affect: I have two sons. One has never given me any trouble. And I don’t plan to lose the one in Florida over the one who’s sitting in jail. I was caught completely and utterly off guard. My first response was to have him repeat it. He did. I began to weep. God says he’s a God of restoration. God says He will never leave us nor forsake us. God can be trusted. He is a loving Father. He is my Father. And through His great mercy, He has now gifted me with a second father that loves me, is proud of me and fights for my honor.