The Spiritual Rhythm of a Good Dad

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My relationship with God has changed over the years. At first, he was someone I could only worship on Sundays and Wednesdays at a designated time and place. He always seemed just out of reach and unapproachable, unless I had the right words and I didn’t. He was inconsistent and appeared angry. I would guard my prayers, so afraid I would mess them up or accidentally say the wrong thing. Scripture was read through the lens of fear knowing I couldn’t understand it but too afraid to ask many questions. I learned early on that a “good, Christian girl” doesn’t ask many questions anyway. As I spent more time with him and his people, that view, thankfully, begin to change.  

Several years ago, I taught a class of preteen girls. We talked about Father God and what our relationship with him should look like. We spent several class times talking about what a father was, how he should love his wife, children, neighbor, and enemy, and how he should influence his children to love others, as well.

Everyone in class had a dad story. Some had good fathers. Some didn’t. I told them about my dad and how he was a young preacher from Benton, Arkansas and barely out of Croley’s Ridge College when I was born. We talked about how my small family traveled around for a few years before settling in Western Kentucky. I told them how I couldn’t remember much about him.

I have a hard time with memories. Some seem made up; others too blurry to recall details. Trauma has a way of keeping our past just out of our reach. When I think of my dad, I think of that small church building in Heath, KY. I usually don’t think of the preacher’s home where we lived for a few years or the nursing home where he spent the remainder of his young life.

Dad died when he was thirty of ALS. Mom struggled with mental illness and addictions for years until her death a decade later. My brother and I became orphans while we were teenagers. Parentless, or so we thought, before God made it abundantly clear that he had been and always will be our Father.    

I know my dad wasn’t perfect but it’s easy to hold him to that standard especially since we only had a few years together and three of those were watching him struggle with a terminal illness. When I think of the short time I had with my parents, two stories come to mind first. My parents loved other people and weren’t afraid to meet them where they were. When a lonely hiker was found dead thousands of miles from Kentucky, all the authorities had to identify him with was my father’s church business card. The man had passed through our area a few days earlier and Dad had been able to connect with him while he was here.

When my twenty-something, single mother had barely any money to her name, she took out her last twenty dollar bill and gave it to another struggling preacher’s wife. My parents loved people, not perfectly since none of us can, but persistently despite their pain.

The rhythm of this world is one of drama, chaos, and brokenness. Many dance to the brutal and painful tune well. It is all too familiar for some. It was and always has been a part of my life. The spiritual rhythms of God, however, have always been around, too and have constantly moved me closer to God and his people.

God is always willing and available to lift us out of the darkness and offer a stable hand. He is a constant reminder that life isn’t about our own glory. It’s about his. He allows us to see him in the lives of the poor, the grieving, the humble, those who desire justice, those who are merciful, those whose hearts are inclined to good, the peacemakers, those persecuted for doing what’s right, and those who are mistreated. He beckons us to love him by loving and serving them.

I was able to see this holy rhythm in the lives of my parents.  I encourage you this week to see it in those around you. Resist the urge of the world to flee from what God is doing in your life. Give in to his grace, his mercy, and the relationship he is calling you to, not only with him but with his people. Give in to the rhythm of God.

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