Thursday, June 12, 2008



It is probably just a coincidence that, as I write this, Father's day is just about upon us. And to be honest, I hadn't really planned on exploring the topic much here, as a part of this blog, at this moment, not because it wouldn't be a fun thing to do, it just hadn't occurred to me (though if you want to read some great reflections on the journey of fatherhood, you should check out Mike Bennie's blog, "Who's Your Daddy").

Never-the-less, for the last week or so, I have found my mind wandering back to a relatively short but rich conversation that took place for just a few minutes between church services with a new father. It was with evident joy that he was sharing with me just a little of what it meant for him to welcome another little girl into their home. While there is nothing particularly unusual about the excitement of sharing the good news about the arrival of a new life into the world, this conversation was unique in a number of ways.

For one thing, after many long years of struggle with paperwork and red tape, this was now the second time that they had been successful in adopting a child. I don't know when I have seen any parent happier, more excited or proud. In fact, he could hardly restrain himself from talking to anyone who would listen about what it meant for him to be a father once again, with a kind of authenticity and genuine delight that could not help but overflow and sweep you along with it!

But aside from the genuine joy of those first moments of parenthood, which can be pretty heady stuff in itself, there was something more here. This is a father whose own story had been one of a man who for a significant number of years had lost his way, but who, with the help of a twelve step group and some other significant people, had experienced truly amazing grace and healing. So much so, that he now lives with such an awareness of God's love and graciousness, that he can hardly contain it, or keep it from spilling over into every aspect of his life.

As we talked, it was with tears welling up in his eyes, that he spoke about what it meant for him, in response to the incredible graciousness that he had experienced from God, to be able to take in little ones who otherwise would have had no home, into his, and make them a part of his family. He felt that he had experienced so much rich and genuine love from God, he simply could not imagine doing anything else. I wish I could find the words to express the depth and genuineness of what was shared . . . All of which was moving enough on its own, but there was more.

As we talked, he shared yet one more longing in his heart. He wants to adopt at least one more child (perhaps more, but at least one), but this time not toddler, but a junior high or high school child. Understanding how much more difficult it is for older children, particularly those who have gotten a difficult start in life and may have issues to resolve, to find good homes. He spoke of how devastating it must be for them when they don't, and yet how joyful it must be when a good placement is made . . . and the knowledge that the only thing that stands in the way of that happening is people who are willing to take them in. He knows the cost. He knows the challenge. But he also knows what his heart is prompting him to do, and that his head is exciting about following. Perhaps more importantly, he has a strong sense of God's heart. And because he lives in such a consciousness of God's graciousness and blessing, seeing the huge need, and knowing that he not only has the opportunity and ability to do this, but also the desire, he simply can't image doing anything else.

I walk away from that conversation enriched, challenged, and grateful. Not only for an amazing glimpse into the heart of a genuinely loving father, but also for the rich testimony of a life transformed by grace. This father has found himself so embraced by the love and graciousness of God as his Father, that he simply cannot contain it all. It is almost as if he can't really help but let it flow out to others. And It is not that he is unaware of the challenges to be faced, hard work to be done, tears along with with moments of joy to anticipate - parenting, as anyone knows who has taken up the mantle is not for the faint of heart. But there is a sense of something more here, which for him, makes this whole journey, with all of its challenges and moments of exhaustion, like flying a kite on a breezy day.

Living in a vivid awareness of grace. Allowing that to change us.

In the midst of all of this, I find myself thinking about the Father Who is the model for this father's love, and my own need to live more in awareness of that Father's parenting, both for it's own sake (or for His own sake), and so, perhaps, in some way, I might find myself parenting more consistently out of that overflow as well.

And so, as an expression of a few intentional steps in that direction, I have taken Henri Nouwen's book,
The Return of The Prodigal Son, down from it's place on my shelf, and am looking forward to exploring those images more intentionally once again, grateful for the glimpses of grace which surround us.

Happy Father's Day!

No comments: