I’m in Hawaii relaxing on the beach and I’m watching a father I’d guess to be about thirty-five and he is in the shallow water with his three-year-old son. They are having the time of their life as dad tosses him in the air and catches him right as he hits the water. I’m smiling at the joy I see in their bonding together as father and son.
As I turn my outward gaze into an inner one the thought comes to mind, “What if?” What if my father played with me at the beach, engaged with me at a level where he delighted in me so that I could delight in him. That “what if” has been with me for a long time. Yes, I have my Father in heaven that speaks tenderly and lovingly to me yet there is something really deep within me that wants to be fathered by a person with flesh. Why can’t I get that “what if” to go away?
In my thirty years in ministry I’ve heard about the failures of absent fathers and incompetent fathers and emotionally detached fathers, and passive fathers and controlling fathers and narcissistic fathers and irresponsible fathers and perfectionist fathers and abusive fathers and any other fathering failure anyone can express.
I realize I am not the only person, man or woman, that has the “what if” deep within. I’m not the only person that asks, “How would things have been different if dad was different?”
Who can redeem and heal anyone from this wound? Jesus says that one of his primary missions on earth was to introduce to the human race the perfect ideal Father who would heal the father-wound that is in all of us because of less than perfect ideal fathers.
If that’s true am I doing something wrong? Why can’t I shake that “what if” within me? I choose to believe this is the process and one day, one day, that “what if” will be gone and I’ll see Him face to face.