Happy Father’s Day!
I have been so blessed by both my earthly dad and my heavenly dad. When I think about the fact that my life started out as fatherless, it is hard to fathom. God saw my need and selected just the right dad for me! You can ask him about our first meeting when I was almost 10 months old at O’Hare airport in Chicago and how he had just sold his car to finish paying for my adoption expenses. Now that is love!
Until adulthood, I don’t think we realize that we think of our Heavenly Father as a reflection of our earthly one, good or bad. So many of us have had painful experiences with family which can distort our picture of who God is–because of dad not being there, or not providing or showing his love for us. Sometimes we are so broken and hurt by the ones closest to us that it seems to ruin any possibility of seeing God as a kind and compassionate father.
A beautiful parable in the New Testament tells us of the unconditional love of the father toward the prodigal son who had left his father’s house and demanded his inheritance while the father was still alive. Scripture shares the story of this beautiful reunion:
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Especially because of my dad, I grew up knowing compassion, security and affirmation. These important things seems to come most significantly from fathers to their children. To honor my dad is to gratefully accept that I have been shown much compassion and have been called to live a life filled with compassion for others. I can also choose to be a source of security and affirmation to those I meet along the journey.
With my bros and dad; Brandon, me, Dad, Greg, Travis
Age 1 with my Mom and Maternal grandmother
My Mom visiting me in Michigan
Clockwise from top left: with my Mom and Maternal Grandmother age 1; Mom and I in Michigan; Visiting the ruins at Olympia, Greece, in 2014
Most of us come from a background where we were taught to think of God as a specifically male deity. God is depicted as male in most forms of art and literature as well. However, if you have read Henri Nouwen’s book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, you will recall that he identifies God as having many maternal characteristics which include being relational and nurturing. Reading his book in 2000 was the first time I had thought about God having perfect parental character, encompassing traits we think of as characteristic of Mom and of Dad.
I am thankful for my Mom! God created us to be different in many ways and yet He knew we belonged together. He made that happen through adoption by bringing me to another continent from my birth country just before 10 months of age and uniting us as a family. I appreciate her deep desire to mother and nurture. She and my Maternal Grandmother were relentless in their enthusiasm for me to be a part of their family.
What does honoring my Mom look like?
I learned from my mom to look people in the eye and to speak to them clearly and kindly. She taught me to be self-sufficient and fostered a healthy self image. She always demonstrated warmth and affection. Like her, I developed a love for children. I can see God teaching me how to be more like Him through what was modeled by my Mom.
Honoring my Mom means saying yes to opportunities to show love and affection, especially to someone who is hurting. Gracious God, please open my eyes to see the needs around me and make me an instrument of your love and healing.
From dictionary.com: a noun
- a small mechanical device, as a knob or switch, especially one whose name is not known or cannot be recalled; gadget :
a row of widgets on the instrument panel.
- something considered typical or representative, as of a manufacturer’s products:
the widgets coming off the assembly line.
I have been meaning to write about this for a long time. Last year I had this memorable conversation with an American physician colleague who was also serving at Tenwek. We were talking about people as widgets. And I have not stopped thinking about it.
What we discussed was that no matter how much education you have or what your job is, it is often true that WE (people in the workforce) feel like widgets. Not that widgets should have feelings. But you know what I mean. It is this sense that we are nameless, replaceable, just a cog in a wheel. My observation is that many of us have frequent thoughts and feelings that go like this, whether we admit it or not. Many of us are burned out or are getting there; we are made to believe we are generic and not special in any way. We do not feel appreciated or valued.
My physician friends and colleagues, I know many of you feel the weight of this on your shoulders.
I would ask you to consider what our Heavenly Father says about us. There are some deep thoughts about this in Psalm 139, where scripture reveals that we are known to God and that each and every one of us matters. And that we are created in His image to do good works, things that count in this world and in eternity.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So when you find yourself just doing that next mundane thing, please remember your eternal value and think on these scriptures as pertains to you, your value, your little yet important place in this world. There are specific things that ONLY YOU were created to do and particular relationships that ONLY YOU can have!
Go into each day waiting to see what God’s grace will provide. From Ann Voskamp:
Today is a landmark day where I took a first step on a new journey. After months of telling people that I was going to quit my job because God was calling me to serve at Tenwek Mission Hospital in Kenya and that they could read about the journey on my blog, here we are finally getting started. My last day of work at the West Michigan Cancer Center was September 30, 2015. Lots of transitions have taken place since that time and I am grateful that God has provided me with temporary part-time employment while I am still here in Michigan.
Because of God’s faithfulness, we get to be a part of things we never thought possible. Serving the Lord in Kenya as a medical missionary was one of those impossible things. Thank you for taking this long journey with me, your encouragement and prayers are a blessing in my life. You have helped me to see that with God all things are possible.
This week God also introduced me to a new connection during my week of training at World Gospel Mission (in the future, I will refer to the organization as WGM). Each of the new missionaries shared briefly with the WGM staff and I spoke about the need for Christ centered care for women with cervical cancer and others at the end of life in East Africa.
A staff member introduced himself and then shared later with me about his niece who died at age 23 from cervical cancer. His sister and brother-in-law started a foundation to help Educate & Screen, Vaccinate & Eradicate! http://kristeneve.org
Kristen’s story is also told in a book entitled Love, Kristen and part of her story is told in a documentary film about 5 women with cervical cancer entitled, “Someone you love” about the HPV epidemic, http://www.hpvepidemic.com
I am grateful for how God made this connection as only He can; what an affirmation of how much He cares for the needs of women in Kenya and around the world.