Many of us- we get Mumford and Sons when they belt with passion about the boy on the porch longing for the dad that wasn’t there. Many of us- we get Everclear when they say “you gave me a name and then walked away.” We get Kelly Clarkson when she says “Because of you I find it hard to trust Not only me, but everyone around me.” And we get one of the saddest songs of all time- Cats in the cradle, whose lyrics sing of a father and son who just can’t seem to make time for each other “My son turned ten just the other day. He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play. Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”. We get Adele and Tupac and even Lindsay Lohan’s Confessions of a Broken Heart– we get them even if they scream in death metal or twang in country. Their put voice to our experience or the experience of so many of our friends. Even if your story doesn’t resonate with these lyrics, these songs should grab your heart….because….
We are living in what is being called the fatherless generation. Tonight, 25 million young people will go to sleep with no father in their house. One third of those children will never see their fathers.
I think about some of my close friends. One was kidnapped by her own dad. Another one of my friend’s dad committed fraud using his own son’s name to get credit cards and racked up huge debt for my friend’s family to deal with. I have a friend whose dad slept with his sister and impregnated her in highschool. One of my friends calls her dad her “sperm donor”. Yet alot of my friends had great fathers who were just too busy paying the bills, chasing their dreams and climbing the corporate ladder to be present. I sat with a young college student recently and as she cried, she said something I will never forget. She said, “I had a father and he was around and you know the worst part about it? He sat in the same room as me but it was like he wasn’t there because he never talked to me.” A dad there physically, but absent emotionally. Many of us have been raised by dads who were busy, self soothing, apathetic, addicted or were just MIA.
This absence has often whispered to us: You were a mistake. You were never wanted in the first place. You aren’t a priority. You aren’t good enough. You remind me of your mother. You aren’t who I wanted you to be. You aren’t worth getting act together.
We were born into imperfection…it’s what I call a wounded collision. We came out the birth canal and collided with wounded people. We came out and entered more than the Cleavers, a Volvo, an address with a white picket fence and casseroles. We were born into parents who were wounded by their parents who were wounded by their parents and so forth. We collided with people who had their own pain and numbed it in destructive ways, their own rebellion and sin and it ran right into us. So here we are-humanity- a bunch of kids bleeding all over the place. And in part because we yearn for a father. We yearn for his presence. We yearn to make him proud. We yearn to mimic him in his bigness. We yearn for his protection. We yearn to turn to him to be
there when we need him. But we can’t so we turn to other things to be there. We hope others will protect us. We hope we can make other people proud. We don’t know who to mimic and we find ourselves imitating the wrong people. We will take what we can get to be affectionate because we long for that affection. We settle for a voice, any voice, to say “I love you”. We have major trust issues because when we hear “I will be there”…those words didn’t ring true. We turn to folly when we need wisdom because he is too busy for advice. And so this imperfection we were born into keeps wounding us again and again.
We grieve like those in Lamentations who cry: We have become fatherless, our mothers are widows.
When I was 20, there was this book that had been sitting on my shelf for like 6 months. It was black and it said “Holy Bible”. At some point in that apartment in college, I opened up that book and I started reading page 1… “In the beginning…” It seemed like in the beginning things were awesome and then they got so messed up. It seemed like things were perfect and then Adam, the first Father blew it and his sons were ruined and they ruined their sons and everything was a bloody wounded war zone with orphans and anger and widows and hatred. Then I put the book back on the shelf….
Months later, my brokenness kept following me… I ended up opening this darn book again. And It’s words will pierce any open heart…and my heart was as open as needing a new heart would be- for surgery. These words that we are told are His words, this God of the Universe, the One who made everything, the One who sculpted me in my mother’s womb and connected me to her with a life cord … these were His words -this God who planned my life! What would he say to me about this mess everyone has all over them? What would He say about my pain? What could he possibly use as an explanation for all of this? Who was He anyway? As I read, these words spoke of broken fathers and dysfunction junction all throughout history, but they also kept telling of a Father. They point to this God who calls himself Father. He wants to be seen as such and beckoned as so. This story tells of a God who is as the Psalmist in 68:5 says: A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Jesus talked about this Father all the time. He said we could look at Him and see the Father because they are one. He called this Father a Father of Heaven and who is Himself perfect. He is a dad who knows what we need. This Father forgives and has more than spankings and disappointment but mercy that overflows. Jesus says we can rely on Him because this Father takes care of the birds so how much more will He take care of his kids? Jesus says this Father is the best gift giver ever because He knows you so well. Jesus was sure this Father would do the craziest things for his kids- He would even give up His very self for them! Jesus always talked about this Father and said with certainty- the Father loves you. I love what Jesus says in John 14:18 – describing the love of this God:
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Jesus told stories all the time about this Father. Instead of a story where the son
looks down the dusty road and longs for his father like Mumford and Sons sing, Jesus tells of a
Father who waits on that road longing for his kids. A Father who will
run to his kids! A Father who says I will come to you! I read about this
Father and it changed my whole life. Will it change yours?