MIA is a military designation, meaning “Missing in Action.” It is the designation given when honorable men who have risked their safety — even their lives — in defense of and service to their country disappear on some foreign battlefield. Captured, perhaps… even killed. Without warning. Without notice. Without word.
Some of them are Dads.
But what about the Dads who disappear closer to home? Not on some foreign battlefield, but on a domestic one. Those dads who willingly disappear from their families. With or without warning. With or without notice. With or without word. Those who vanish altogether. Even those who are still present… but are absent, just the same.
Some puzzles seem beyond solutions. How can a fish fully grasp the concept of “dry” when all it has ever known is wet? How can slaves fully grasp the concept of “freedom” when all they have ever known is bondage?
How can a daughter fully grasp the concept of “father” when she has always been fatherless?
“Sing to God, sing in praise of His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds, rejoice before Him — His name is the Lord. A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:4-6a)
A Father to the fatherless? Such a hard concept for so many of us to grasp, Lord. Those of us who know the “less” part of that word, but have never experienced the “more” You always meant for “father” to mean.
For me, the “less” part began in earnest when I was nine years old. When my Dad died suddenly of a heart attack. But I have been told the “less” part began earlier when, for whatever reasons, I never quite made it onto his “radar screen.”
Perhaps it was just “benign neglect.” But I wonder: Is neglect ever really benign? Perhaps it was something else altogether. Whatever it was, I don’t remember it. Because I don’t remember him. In fact, I don’t remember any of my entire childhood… up until the morning after his death.
Weird, huh? Or maybe not so weird after all. There’s a message there… isn’t there, Abba?
Sometimes the “less” part of “fatherless” is happening before our very eyes, even as our heart is breaking. This was (is) the case for the dear sister-in-Christ who showed me her broken heart yesterday.
A passive dad who always walked (walks) on eggshells around a dominating wife whose “love” was (is) only rarely dispensed to others… for performance that vastly exceeds expectations. Expectations deliberately set high enough to ensure that her “storehouse” of love can be kept to herself… for herself.
So it was that yesterday, a grown woman revealed to me the little girl inside her who still aches with the profound grief of being both fatherless and motherless.
Oh, Abba… You want so much more for us! You ARE so much more!
“For this is what the Lord says:… As a mother comforts a child, so will I comfort you, and you will be comforted… When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord will be made known to His servants.” (Isaiah 66:13a-14)
“When you see this…” Oh, Abba… Give us eyes to see! Even in our present state, where we live with the “less” even as we ache for the “more.”
Funny how a bright light hurts our eyes at first, when we are used to being in darkness.
Until our eyes adjust…
“I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.” (John 8:12)
Oh, Abba… Adjust our eyes to Your Light! That we may dare to follow You out of the darkness and live confidently — by faith — in the Light!
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
Oh, Abba… Give us eyes to see You and the faith to embrace You as our true Father! As our Abba, who longs to protect us from all harm and to fill every hole in our hearts. The Father who chose us because You had eyes — and a heart — only for us.
“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will — to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)
Sometimes it seems like a miracle that any of us end up surviving the hand we are dealt, Lord. But You have much more in store for us than mere survival… don’t You, Lord?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have Life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
My beloved Abba — The Miracle Maker, for whom nothing is impossible!!!
Gratefully Yours, forever…