You could always pick him out of a crowd. The salt and peppery hair on his head always stood a good 6 inches above everyone else. He had a broad and sturdy frame and hands bigger than anyone I’ve met. We joked that his wedding ring could be a bracelet for my scrawny little wrists.
His demeanor was quiet and sure. Intimidating to most yet a softie to those who knew him well and to say his little girl had him wrapped around her finger? Well, I most certainly did.
My dad was a picture of stability for me. He had strength of character, he was the sole provider for our family, he knew what he knew and he knew it well. Rarely was he argued with because his opponents knew better. He was either right, or not backing down. Did I mention there’s a stubborn streak that runs in the family?
Though he never finished high school he was the hardest worker I’ve ever met. There would be days he would come in from some project and I’d proclaim, “Dad, you’re bleeding!” He would look down and shrug. This made him invincible in my eyes.
It had never been hard for me to relate to God as a Father, given the Dad that I had. Of course God was strong, and unchanging and right in every way. So was my Daddy. Of course God was just and good and patient and kind. It all seemed so natural, because my Dad was too.
There was a time though, that these two figures started to clash. When the strength of one began to hinder the strength of another and life wasn’t making sense anymore and why, if my Daddy was good would my Father who is Good, take him away from me?
I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. I answered with a perky, “Hi Dad,” and he responded back with his tried and true, “Hi, babygirl.”
At 32 I was still his babygirl. I knew I would be until the end of time. I had no idea the end of time was nearing though.
My dad had been through a series of doctor visits and overnight hospital stays. He had his lungs drained and blood transfused. He had been poked and prodded and no one was quite sure what the deal was but something wasn’t right. In fact, something was very, very wrong.
I knew he had been to see the doctor on this beautiful crisp, yet sunny winter’s day and as I pulled into the parking stall at my boys school I took his call and we chatted.
I asked him what the doctor had to say today and he announced, like he was telling me the score of lasts nights hockey game, that he was given three to six months.
Three to six months.
Three to six months?!?!
To my surprise tears didn’t overwhelm my eyes but venom instead. I riddled him with questions along the lines of how could this be’s and second opinions and maybe they’re wrongs and this isn’t fairs.
Over the next 5 months I watched as my Dad’s life was slowly taken from him. First, his capacity to go and do at breakneck speeds. Then his ability to even get out of bed for more than a few minutes. Finally, the tubes and the needles and the hospital became his normal, his permanent residence. I watched as day by day the little things would fade away. His eyes would stay closed now. His ears weren’t hearing all that we would say. His responses were few and far between. I watched as his heart could no longer pump strong and his extremities started to grow cold. I sat for a few minutes with my fingers resting on his arm, only to see the divets they created that would now stay. His life not even strong enough to push the skin back out.
I’d never wrestled with God before. Never questioned his ways or his purposes. But I did now.
Now, when my earthly ambassador of Jesus, my very human picture of the love of God was being taken from me did I question the love of my heavenly Father. As I wrestled through the questions and the doubts, as I battled the hard places of why he wasn’t healed and why so young, I learned so much.
I learned that though my earthly Daddy was leaving me my Heavenly Father was saying, I’m here.
I learned that even though my earthly Daddies strength was fleeting my Heavenly Father was saying, I never change.
My heart was grieving as I watched my Dad’s life drain from out of him but my Heavenly Father was showing me that only He could heal my heart in a way my Dad never could.
I’m so thankful for the legacy my Dad left. The things he taught me and the love he shared. But even greater, I’m thankful that God is always my Father and that His love is perfect and His ways are good.