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  • Writer's pictureJanet Richey


I accepted Christ as my personal savior at the inconceivably young age of six, mainly, because I wanted to please my dad. While anyone with a pocket New Testament could poke holes in the validity of that conversion, it was at least, a start.

I introduced you to my dad in my recent blog “Just Say Yes”. He was a deaf, charismatic preacher who had a knack for breaking down the scriptures into easy-to-understand applicable wisdom. And I idolized him.

The deaf community was not confined to one geographic area, so he drove to them, often across state borders. It is a powerful and intoxicating feeling when obedience to God brings praise and notoriety. It is no wonder, then, that he was singularly focused on his mission, leaving little time for his family. Anyone with a parent in ministry knows what I am talking about.

I think both of us had a dream that I would one day assist him in his ministry, and maybe follow in his footsteps. Early on it was clear, however, that as I got into my teens, my desire to please Dad faded, and more importantly, I never felt that magnetic calling to work with the deaf.

Predictably, I paved my own, albeit tree root-infested path into adulthood, and distanced myself from my dad and his ministries. Even during my what some might call rebellion, I can see where God was beginning a good work in me by providing me with a home church, a husband and kids that I could love.

Maybe it’s because it was in the waning days of his ministry, or maybe it was because he saw the growth in me, but Dad and I eventually reconnected over theological debates and analyzing the latest TV evangelist. Our later-in-life relationship made forgiveness for the abandonment I felt as a kid, a no-brainer. The scars don’t ever really go away, but there was healing in that renewed relationship and acceptance of one another.

Healing!! How did that happen? It is because of God’s love. The same extravagant love I still struggle to get my head around.

I am hard-wired to believe that love from anyone is dependent on how well-behaved I am, or what I can do for someone. The hard truth is that you can’t earn anyone’s love, much less that of the God of the Universe, so it becomes an exercise in frustration, leading to some very unhealthy thought patterns. It is a hamster wheel that feels impossible to get off of. Until God Himself puts his finger on it.

God’s Word is stuffed with promises and storylines demonstrating His love for us. Still, phrases like “Jesus loves you,” or “God is love,” are so commonly used that, to a skeptical observer, sound like platitudes. But it really comes down to gratitude and observation. It’s as extravagant as a colorful sunrise, as real as the loving relationships in your life, and as life-giving as the food and fresh water on your table.

As Father’s Day approaches, I think of the men God has lovingly placed in my path, to perhaps fill the spaces that Dad simply couldn’t. It comes in the form of watching my husband being a hands-on dad with our kids. It has been men like my dad’s older brother and my father-in-law who’ve both stood in as a father figure. It’s godly men within my church family who visited my mom in the last few days of her life, and others who have seen my potential and allowed me to serve in ways I only dreamed of.

What did I do to deserve this kind of Christian love? Absolutely nothing. And yet like the unknown identity of a bird singing his heart out in the morning, the Holy Spirit doggedly encourages me to seek Him with my whole heart by prayer, scripture reading, and surrounding myself with people who love Him.

This is my verse:

“6. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba, Father!” 7. So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son (daughter) then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:6-7 ESV.

God gave me an earthly father who cared enough to show me the Word, but God Himself has shown me love, in a way no earthy man can do, and then, He called me His daughter. The longing in my soul has been satisfied. He alone filled the empty spaces.

Men, who can you be a father figure to today?

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