June 19, 2006
I’m Glad You’re My Father Because…
Many months ago, when I was reading Bob Sorge’s book, “Secrets of the Secret Place” (the first time through,) my heart leapt with excitement when I read his chapter on the importance of retreats. As soon as I finished my morning devotions, I looked ahead on my calendar and planned a three-day, silent retreat, like he suggested in the book. I couldn’t wait to get away from everything, with only my Bible and a case of bottled water, to hear from God and grow closer to Him.
Last week, the day finally arrived. I packed up my van, with my dog, (I figured this didn’t negate the whole “silent” retreat thing,) a small bag with some comfy sweats, no make-up bag, and my favorite pillows. I drove to the border of Oklahoma to a friend’s ranch where I often go to write.
I arrived late in the morning and snuggled up on the couch with my Bible. My plan was to read through the “Harmony of the Gospels.” Basically, this just means reading through all four gospels, combined into one, in chronological order with some stories repeated a few times.
Let me just skip right ahead and tell you how unglamorous this whole retreat turned out to be. I was miserable! I’ve gone on three-day fasts before, but I always drank LOTS of fresh juice. This time I decided to drink only bottled water. Oh my goodness, I was weak as a puppy. I could hardly stay out of bed, barely finding time to read my Bible in between naps. And forget about praying, or worshiping. That would take way too much energy.
By the end of the first day I was bored to tears. It really wasn’t the hunger thing that got me, it was the tired thing. Not having any energy to do anything seemed to cancel out any good that could have come from reading my Bible, praying, or worshiping. I realized I was a fasting wimp.
I tossed and turned all night long, with weird dreams, none of them from God! until finally the sun rose and I could get out of bed – for about an hour-and-a-half when I crawled back in for my first nap of the day. Did I mention how much I missed my morning coffee? I’m in love with coffee – I think I’ll marry it. I never want to have to live another day without it.
About 3 o’clock in the afternoon I said out loud, “Okay, Uncle! I give up. I can’t do this. This is too hard. I want to go home. I miss my family. I’m bored out of my gourd! Even so, Lord, you know I won’t give up. I will stay here for the full three days. But, it would be really nice if you would show up. I just don’t have the energy to seek You and find You. Will you please come get me?”
A couple of hours later I received a phone call from my cousin. (I was only supposed to have one phone call a day but I had cheated a bit on this one.) It was so weird, I had just been praying for my cousins and aunts and uncles that morning. So, I told Tammy that when she called. She went on to say, “Well, I’m sorry that we never get to talk and the only time we do it has to be because of bad news. They took your daddy to the hospital last night and no one has been able to reach you until now.”
I immediately jumped up, grabbed a stale jar of nuts in the pantry, tipped it back, and guzzled it down like it was a soda. Then I threw my stuff in the bag, grabbed my dog, and headed to the hospital, stopping only long enough to grab a sandwich and a drink at Chick-fil-a.
As I made the long drive, with my tummy full, and my energy back, I began to pray. What was all of this about? After subsequent phone calls, it was apparent that my dad was going to be okay, and the fact that he was in the hospital was a good thing. He had been having a lot of problems lately and, at least now, they would be able to get to the bottom of it.
What was weird was the fact that I didn’t feel at all guilty about not finishing my fast or my retreat. I knew God honored my desire and commitment and I learned some practical steps for the next retreat. For starters, I will either take plenty of juice with me for a shorter retreat or I will go on a longer retreat and not count on doing anything until about the third day when my body adjusts.
One thing happened though; without certain things, I learned to appreciate them more. Coffee, that goes without saying. The energy to seek God. The times I DO feel God’s presence and want to spend all day with Him. Long, lazy days at home with my family doing nothing. And, of course, my dad. That short window of time when I didn’t know how bad he was made me vow to be a much better, more appreciative, daughter.
I decided to write a little note and frame it so, even if I reverted back to the, crazy-busy momma, too-infrequent caller, take-for-granted, daughter, he would know how I really feel about him.
I am thankful you are my father because…
...of your tender heart. Your tenderness is apparent the first time anyone meets you. You have a sweet smile that reflects a gentle nature. You filled our home growing up with peace and calm.
… I never had to worry as a child. It never crossed my mind to thank you for a safe home, plenty of food, family vacations, a trip to Sears for school clothes and a trip to K-Mart for summer wear. I always had everything I needed because of you.
… you married my mother. She brought so much fun and excitement into our home and you always sat back and watched her with a twinkle in your eye. You married a good woman and gave me a great mom.
… you are a generous giver. I know mom always went overboard at Christmas time but you never complained. I can only imagine how much money my hundreds of dance lessons and acting classes and every other sport, scout, or church activity cost, but you always cheerfully paid for them. And then to top it all off, you bought me a gold Trans-Am with an 8-track stereo and a T-Top when I turned 16! Now, that’s a cool dad.
… of the good traits you passed on to me. I should thank you everyday that I’m organized and my desk is neat and tidy. (Most of the time.) I’m also glad I inherited your frugal nature. I missed out on the good cook, green thumb, and great fisherman, genes but I do get a golden tan in the summer because of you.
… I got a praying grandmother in the deal. Now that I’m older I treasure what a godly mother you had. She was such respectful wife, loving grandmother, godly woman, sweet friend, and adoring mother. I pray that even a handful of her genes were passed down to me.
…of your dry sense of humor. Momma has the quick with but you always produced the hysterically funny from out of nowhere. Which makes me think of the next reason I’m thankful you are my father. Because…
…of your easy-going personality. I like you, Daddy. You are a kind friend who is quick to laugh and even quicker to share the sweetest smile the world has ever seen.
…of your love for Jesus. Anytime you come to church with me, or whenever I pray with you, or even just talk about the Lord, you always get teary-eyed. I know Jesus knows how much you love Him deep down inside. But mostly because…
… you’re my dad. And I love you and I know you love me. That’s enough reason to be thankful you are my father.
Posted by weblion at 02:19 PM