June 1, 1972 is the day in my life that will live on as one of the most significant. Three weeks after my ninth birthday and a couple of days after my siblings birthdays my father, only 37 years old died of cancer. He was my hero, my champion, a boxer, a soldier and the one who taught me how to navigate a world that was not too favorable to people of color.
A funny thing happened in my heart in that moment, as I lay on my bed in Ottawa, having been flown from Germany where our family with my father had been serving in the UN peacekeeping forces. I determined then and there I was going to be a father, a good father. I knew nothing of how to be a father but I wanted to be like my dad in the only way that I knew how and that was to be a father.
Now we know that fatherless is in epic proportions, fathers can be physically present but in all other ways absent. They can provide materially but not spiritually or emotionally. Little boys and girls are desperate for the love that only a father can give. I needed a father, desperately; I had lots of anger and was expressing it in all the wrong ways. Jesus came into my life and as I was reading His word these words leapt from the pages.
Psalm 68:5 God in His holy dwelling is a father of the fatherless and a champion of widows. I shut my bible and prayed. “God, I will take you up on that, I don’t have a father and I need You to father me”
Fast forward 20 years and I am a father, I have three children and God has been so gracious to me in so many ways that I cannot begin to explain. My dream has come true, I am now a father but my role model died and though he left me a great example in many ways I needed more. I read many books on parenting, had a godly wife who assisted me in my journey, but I still felt deficient. As a pastor I regularly taught the importance of being a present father.
I taught on the role of a Father 1) Father’s Provide – materially, spiritually, mentally, socially, limits, guidelines 2) Father’s Protect – against disease, danger, enemies, wrong concepts of failure, cultural influences 3) Father’s Prophesy – call our future into existence, they don’t allow us to stay as we are or where we are but more us into destiny 4) Father’s Stabilize – bring peace, wholeness, security, comfort, wisdom
But I needed more and so I cried out to God for how I could better represent and encapsulate Him to my children. I knew Him to be the greatest Father and could see in the word how Jesus mirrored the Father in His speech and in His deeds I wanted to be more like Him. It was during a season of crying out to God to be a better father like Him that two thoughts were dropped into my heart. “Treat them the way that I treat you, treat them like the princes and princess that they are” My eyes were opened in a brand new way. I was raising royalty. I knew this in my mind, but know I could see it in my heart. I thought of how God interacted with me, His love, His kindness, His compassion, His vision, His purposefulness, His discipline, His conviction and His faithfulness. My prayer had been answered I could see more clearly how I could be a better father. Though I did not have an earthly role model, God had in Himself given me an example to follow.
I may not have had my earthly father with me and in the most crucial time of my life no one stepped up to father me, but I was wonderfully fathered, for God is faithful to be a Father to the Fatherless of this my life is a living testimony.
Stephen Wesley is an ordained minister and author. You can find his first devotional Cornerstone Truths of the Christian faith on Amazon, or as an e-book through Kobo, Kindle and ibooks.