Monday, July 14, 2014

For the Fatherless Generation: On Receiving a Gift [From My Dad]

My dad is drinking again. Next month would have landed him two years sober. More noteably for me, that two year mark was the line in the sand which declared his distance from the bottle significant enough for me to once again pursue relationship with him. Go figure, so near to that time he gets snatched away by it all yet again. 

Yet Jesus is ever sweeter. 

My dad may never be able to be a huge part of my life. And the pain surrounding that neglect and abuse may never fully cease as long as my feet walk this soil. But one day, glory will seep into even the deepest crevasses and every tear will cease forevermore. That doesn't lift the weight, but it sure does offer hope in an otherwise sucky situation to which so many of this fatherless generation can empathize.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. [Hebrews 6:19]

He anchors me with that hope. And this week, His grace extended beyond an eternal promise. He gave me a few earthly anchors too.

Somewhere in the midst of it all, my dad brought four of us into this world. 

And those three who came before me, well they gave me Jesus.

Fast forward a number of years and here we are--in these beautiful black hills of South Dakota tucked away in a couple of cabins in the side of a lush hill where the air is crisp and the mountains declare His glory in a way words never could. For the most part, we desire Jesus and love each other in light of that. In spite of the unspoken and piercing hurts we each relive as we recall childhood memories and adult disapointments, just look at us here right now.

Pure glory of Christ alone.

I want to freeze time and stuff these moments into a jar, only to be popped open in the dark and desolate seasons of life where those daunting daddy-daughter moments are raw.

What gift do you see today, sister? You may search, but He is the giver of all things glorious.

As I sit and watch my oldest brother flopping around with my nephew on the tube in the wake of the boat, the crowd belly laughing at their shenanigans, I just want to soak in it. I used to be so angry with my dad for robbing me of such moments. But today, I just saw a God who redeems with every goofy trick they tried. The anger has faded and my eyes see differently now.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. [1 Peter 4:12-13]

My brother isn't perfect, but he is a dad to my niece and nephew. He is there and active and loves them unashamedly. I know they would never doubt it either. Our dad has fallen short but the Lord never has. Watching my big brother points me straight towards the face of our redeemer, the one who is enough in our lacking. I've seen both of my brothers and sister flesh out lives that testify to that.


One brother couldn't be here this week as he is home with my nephews and sis-in-law, one being an itty bitty baby nephew not quite ready for a family trek across the county. But I got to soak up a few snuggles and moments before coming here, which also left me in awe of a faithful Jesus. The older of my nephews was attached to his daddy like glue the whole time. He adores him. We bribed him to take a picture with his Aunt Courtney and he was smiling super big--only because after the picture was over, he knew he got to go to the park with dad. Do ya'll see this redemption? My heart overflows with gratitude. These brothers, just trudging through the thick of it and raising their boys to love Jesus and others. It matters more then anything else, I think.


Last night beneath the beating rays of sun, quietly out on the porch my brother-in-law began to divulge the details surrounding my dad's decent into the bottle over the past several months. He shared a lot that made my emotions swing. But one specific story has stuck with me, and probably always will.  My brothers had sensed dad was drinking for some time. After several unsuccessful conversations, my bro-in-law decided to show up at dad's place unannounced. He had my nephew with him.

They went in to say hi and my bro-in-law found the fresh bottle of VO tucked away nicely in the trash within minutes. He confronted dad about the direction he was headed. He talked about the straight & narrow road verses the wide one--two roads to choose from but each with devastatingly contrasting destinations. He just told dad the choice was his--but it was indeed a choice, and one he had to man up and make for himself.

Through this conversation, my nephew is there and listening to his dad and grandfather go back and forth. My brother-in-law says he never wants to hide the truth behind panes of pretty color when the rust and moth are destroying from within, so to speak. He wants his son to know the weight of the choices we make and the blessings and curses which pour from each. And he didn't say it, but he wants my nephew to choose life, to know Christ and make him known--to live a different life then the generations prior, including that of his grandfather.

He doesn't have to say it though--he just lives and teaches his son to live like that too.

I love this. Not that every one of those conversations should include little ears, but what a blessing my nephew gets to know the truth (even the hard truth) and by God's grace live freer then his grandpa.

Alcohol has never once looked good on my dad. And while I need not be enslaved by fear of any extreme, I never wanted to see my life mimic after his. I pray by God's grace, these conversations give my nephew the same vision. I pray they spur him towards Jesus and righteousness, not by his strength but the spirit.

Out of my dad's wake has come four kiddos and seven grandchildren. No matter what decisions he makes, these are lives that will multiply and go forth, and by God's grace, they will be all for His glory.

If we fail to testify to that sort of redemption, we so easily victimize ourselves and forget who this is really about.

JESUS is worthy. I'm going to fight my flesh differently and fall more quickly to certain desires and that will probably always have a lot to do with my dad. But Jesus is worthy. He came before me and suffered greatly in the flesh, so I can arm myself with a similar way of thinking in the midst of trials, so as to live in this flesh a slave no longer to my own passions but for the will of God.

We need only to entrust our souls to a faithful creator. [1 Peter 3]

I'm nothing awesome and I know my siblings would say likewise. But Jesus is. And in our weaknesses He is ever faithful. My dad gave me these brothers and sister and in-laws who have filled in in ways which our dad never could. What a gift.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To HIM be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. [1 Peter 5:10-11]

It's coming friends. He is coming. So let us all anchor down into the hope by which He's called us His. It's far too easy to forget, so let's speak often of a God who redeems that others might know the sweetness of Him too. By God's grace, even my dad.

So lift your eyes from the hurt and heartache sister. Fixate them on the One who redeems. Look for it--there may be no wake of generations to come apart from you--but that's okay, start there. He REDEEMS, yes even you!

Hear the Savior say, thy faith indeed is small, child of mercy watch and pray, find in my thine all in all!

Blessed by these brothers who stand in the gap and pave the way. 

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