There we all were, gathered around his frail body. His eyes were closed, ours were full of tears. He was just 37 years old. Cancer had its way with his body and we knew he was tired of the fight. The quietness of that bedroom I’ll never forget. Someone asked if we would sing to him and I remember opening my mouth unable to utter any melody, any sounding note. My heart began to break. At the age of 10 my father was passing away before my eyes, leaving behind a beautiful wife and four young children. Later that day, he would take his last breath. Cancer had beat his body but our gracious God had preserved his soul. Nothing could separate him from the love of His Lord. A love he displayed so openly to his family.
May 14th, 2003 forever changed the trajectory of our lives. As I consider the death of my earthly father, my heart is forever thankful for the sovereign plan of my Creator, even in this. I say this with the utmost honesty and vulnerability. I am writing this specifically for families who are walking through this same valley of fatherlessness; wives who have just lost their beloved husband and friend, who now have been left with small children to love, lead, and care for. Let me tell you, they will be okay. I want to encourage every disheartened part of you as you think of your children and what lies ahead of you. May the weight upon your shoulders be replaced with such a strong vision of the Heavenly Father that holds your children. May every fear dissolve and let faith arise in your heart to trust that every moment He is working for their good. Your children’s loss God can use for their gain and His honor.
God led us from Houston, Texas to a small rural town in East Texas. There awaited us a small house that would be filled with some of the sweetest days of my youth. I look back on those days and wonder how we made it and am astounded at the tangible providence the Lord poured out upon us. This is the place I would grow the most as a young girl. A home where the revelation of my Heavenly Father would provide for me such a ballast against the rising of every wave that bellowed before me. I see now, this storm proved to be my salvation.
It was through the death of my earthly father that I began to understand the protection, provision, and power I could now find in a Heavenly Father. The more I grieved, the nearer was His touch. The face of my dad I would never see again here on earth but I was now given the superior chance to behold more deeply the image of my Heavenly Father. This was grace undeserving, yet unrelenting. Little by little God uncovered the great value of knowing Him as not only Savior, but as Father. This helped me in some of my darkest moments as a young girl.
“O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. “- Psalm 10:17-18
We are taught the most vital of roles is the one of the father, and I could not agree more. Love, comfort, and security are easily felt in a godly father, this I do not deny. Doesn’t the knowledge that our dad loves us, approves of us, and protects us cause our hearts to feel we can do anything? If Dad has our back, what is there to lose? There are many who have never tasted this from a broken and marred earthly father. But how great is it to have the opportunity to rely upon the perfect, mighty, faithful, and loving Father who knows every hair upon your child’s head and saves every tear that falls from their cheeks? The hands that held me now would not fail out of feebleness, or lead me astray from weakness. Through my fatherlessness, God carried my heart to His where I learned I could trust in Him. I love how the Jesus Storybook Bible describes this Fatherly Love, it’s “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love”. There is and there will be no comparison to it. In my most fragile years, my Father taught me I could hide in Him and be safe, loved and secure. I drank deeply from His word and held tightly to His hand.
God has been faithful to me. He has been more faithful to me than an earthly Father could ever be. I have seen the roots of my faith be stretched into deep soil because of the uncertainties that surrounded me as a young girl, and now I am forever grateful. This was a gift greater than any comfort that would come from my sweet Dad. The eternal hope for my soul never rested in him or his love, and this is the case for your children as well.
Precious to me are the few memories God has given me with my father. I will always wonder what life would have been like if he had not been taken, yet I would not trade the days of dependence on the Lord caused by his death for one moment more with him. What will last— the Love that will endure— I have found; my soul is forever secure in Thee.
“The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10
Of course, with all brokenness comes the need to be healed. There were places of my life I never knew my father’s death touched and effected. I’ll never forget a few months before my husband proposed to me, my heart became incredibly unsure and hesitant to continue on in our relationship. Our relationship was built upon our love for Christ. The most attractive thing to me about my husband was his insatiable love and hunger for the Lord. So I was very confused why I was feeling as I was and did not want to leave it unattended to. As I sought the Lord, asking for wisdom, he gave me a promise:
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! “ – Psalm 84:11-12
This moment I will forever hold onto, because it was the first time I realized the lie I had been believing: God doesn’t want me to have good things. One significant root of this deception was birthed from the loss of my father. I didn’t know how to articulate it, but my thought went along the lines of this; “If God took from me such a wonderful thing like my Dad, how can I believe He wants me to have anything good?”
My distrust in God’s Fatherly affection and good provision for me regarding my husband, Kris, was such a pivotal lesson for me to learn. “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” This penetrated and pierced deeply into my heart and life.
God drew me out from this thread of wrong-thinking and set my feet upon the Rock of His word. He freed me from a fear surrounding me that I never even knew was there. Yet, the fondness, love, and devotion to Christ— the faith in His goodness towards me— would never bear the weight it has were it not for His sovereign will to take my father when He did. Indeed, there were and have been many sorrowful days considering what life and laughter my dad brought with him—he was a joy! What outweighs this is the vibrant beauty of my Lord when I consider how He has steadfastly held me, lead me, and provided for me through the years. My head knows He is faithful, but so does my heart. He has proved to be a more loving Father to me than any man on this earth, and because of this my heart will forever stand amazed at being His daughter, bought by such a costly price.
Dare I say to take courage? Presented before you is a rare opportunity for your children to experience the unshakable, sovereign governing of the Ancient of Days.
This is no new revelation, nor a new experience. Thousands of families have walked this very same road and can attest to the goodness of God in their lives. This is a reminder to myself, my sisters, and to the world. The door to be fatherless no more is swinging open for you. Will you walk through it and take hold of the Hand who sent His very Son to die for you? Christ stands ready to save! Upon your repentance and faith in Him you are afforded the privilege to forever sit at the right hand of the Father. This Father loves to take the orphans, the needy, the broken and make them His. I can attest with all my might, this is a good gift, and it can never be taken away.