It was a blustery, cold November day in Pennsylvania as I preached my Father’s funeral. Many Pastors have officiated the final service for their parents, but this was different. Standing at the cemetery that day were family members and friends that knew the real story.
You see, some 60 plus years before, a three-year-old little boy heard a door slam shut, and his Dad was gone. The resulting divorce created a single parent home, a kid growing up without a Dad, and all the resulting issues and hurts that come from it imbedded in a young heart. That divorce many years ago was still pretty much socially unacceptable, and the children of divorce often felt that resentment. Down deep in the heart that young boy began a life long struggle with feelings of rejection, abandonment, insecurity, a struggle to believe that he could be loved by anyone and a feeling that even God couldn’t love him.
The young boy’s mother was a strong Christ follower. She was a Registered Nurse, and she did everything she could to make a home and raise that boy to love the Lord. They moved in with Grandparents, and life went on. There was school and church every Sunday, but those nagging hurts deep in his heart never seemed to dissipate. No one really seemed to notice. Like many children of divorce, this young boy buried his difficult emotions deep inside. Most adults assume(d) that “kids will get over the divorce”, but the truth is quite the opposite. Heart damage is not something that heals overnight, and today there are thousands of adults who are still struggling from their fractured family.
Over the years, that young boy grew into a man himself. For all of those years though “Dad” was simply gone. There was never a birthday gift or even a card, no Christmas gift. He missed his Son’s baptism, High School Graduation, and even his wedding. He was indeed fatherless. The Son went on to college at Penn State and then heard the call of God for ministry. For the next 5 years he prepared for ministry, and eventually became a Pastor.
God blessed that Pastor with a wonderful loving wife, and in time 3 wonderful kids. Those kids sometimes wondered why they only had one Grandpa, instead of two, and wondered what the missing Grandpa was like.
Some 40 plus years after that cold November day, something happened in that Pastor’s life. One Father’s Day Sunday, as the Pastor was preaching, and God directed him to say,
“Some of you have unsaved Dad’s that you need to share Christ with.”
A ton of conviction hit that pastor’s heart, “I have never shared Christ with my own Dad.”
That moment of conviction led to a search, and that Pastor’s Dad was “found” in Miami, FL. He had remarried, had another Son, and was living life his way. But, just a few weeks on from that Sunday morning, the Pastor along with his wife and kids were sitting in a hotel room in Miami. He picked up the phone, and dialed his Dad’s number. It would be his first conversation with his Dad in nearly 40 years.
Over the coming years the Pastor and his Dad reestablished a relationship. It was never as “close” as it could have or should have been, but those Grandkids finally got to meet their Granddad. The Pastor and his Dad went deer hunting together on several occasions and often shared some great conversation while in tree stands. And, that Pastor was able on several occasions to share Christ and talk about spiritual things with his Dad.
One day though, the Pastor got a call. His Dad was seriously ill and in a hospital in Florida. He was weak, and most of the time unconscious. Now ministering in Texas, the Pastor and his wife flew to Florida to be by his Dad’s bedside. I will never forget walking into that hospital room. My Dad, who had been mostly unconscious, turned his head and looked at me, with a faint smile he said,
“Son, I have been waiting for you to come, I want to go to Heaven.”
We held each other’s hands and prayed. In just moments Dad would be unconscious again, and in just a couple days he passed from death unto life.
My heart is so passionate about the effects of Fatherlessness and Motherlessness on the hearts of kids. I know first-hand about the many struggles, heart issues and effects of broken families that kids carry into adulthood. Many times kids from broken homes continue to struggle in relationships with their own spouse, relationships with friends, employers, society, and even God himself.
I believe that God has uniquely qualified me, and called me to speak to these issues. I believe we need to sound the trumpet to parents contemplating divorce who think it’s not a big deal for the kids – that they will just “get over it.” Kids don’t just get over it! I know that first hand. I believe churches need to understand that there are hurting children (and hurting adults) in their ministry. God has gifted the church to be an answer and to help and disciple these special folks who just need some special understanding and love. In the coming months and years I will be speaking and writing about all of these things. I’m not sure where all God will take us, but I sure look forward to the journey.
Back to that cold November Day where we started. I got to share Jesus that day with some family I hardly even knew. I got to tell them about a wonderful Savior who died and rose again, who forgives our sins, all of them, and gives us eternal life. I still don’t fully understand the pathway where God has led me, but as we drove away from the cemetery that day I praised the Lord I was able to share Christ with my Dad, and that someday we will be together again.
As I share the stories of my life, they will always end with hope. You see, no matter how difficult life has been for me at times, there was always the knowledge of a God in heaven that loved me immensely. There was always hope for a better day. If you are struggling today please realize that your story isn’t final. God does have a plan, and the day will come that you will smile again, and realize that you were never alone nor forsaken. With the love of a Heavenly Father, there is indeed Hope 4 Hurting Kids.