Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” – Psam 27:14
Timing. It’s so very important. And, this time it made all the difference.
I am 33 years old and grew up not knowing my father — well, that is until recently.
You see, as teenagers in a quick-lived romance, my mom and dad, just 16 and 17 respectively, got the surprising news that they were pregnant. In the midst of the shock that inevitably followed, my father concluded that I just couldn’t be his. And with that, it was over — he went off to the military, and I was born into a chaotic, single-parent home.
Years passed and life happened.
I didn’t know much about him, just a few scattered facts, bits and pieces strung together from random conversations with my mom. However, one disappointing fact stood out above the rest — he was addicted to drugs and alcohol. At hearing this, my naive hopes of him coming back into my life faded.
But, in high school, I started hanging out with some Christian friends and got to know their families. Something about being around all of them together, so tight-knit and close, seemingly perfect, made me think a lot about my own father. I decided to find him, sifting through countless internet search records and asking a friend’s FBI dad to help me out a little. Yet, all I could find were disconnected phone numbers and bad mailing addresses. For whatever reason, it just never worked out.
So, doing the only thing that I knew or could do, I started praying — praying for my father, wherever he was, his wife, and even his other children, potentially my step-brothers and sisters.
Again, more years passed, but I kept trusting the Lord and kept praying.
Then, strangely, while attending seminary, my younger brothers and sisters, most born to different dads, began to reconnect with their fathers, generally with positive results. Hearing their stories, something began to stir in my heart again. Often I would find myself daydreaming about meeting my dad for the first time, how it would look, the conversations we would have — how great it would be!
Now, I hadn’t told any of this to my husband, which makes this next part seem rather odd. But, not long thereafter, he came to me with a strange look on his face. He said, “Amanda, I had a pretty intense dream last night — it was about your dad.” He continued, “You and I went to meet him and his family, and it was anything but great.” The details of the dream were dark and hurtful. ““I don’t know what’s going on or if you were going to try to reconnect again, but I really think you should wait.” And, though shocked, I did wait, all the while trusting the Lord and praying.
More years passed, 32 all together — then, it happened.
I’m standing in church worshiping the Lord, His presence in the 1,000+ seat auditorium almost tangible. Our worship pastor pauses while playing the piano and begins to share something God is placing on his heart. He testifies saying, “Some of you in this church have been struggling with broken relationships in your families, and I believe that God is about to move, bringing restoration and reconciliation.” Looking at my husband, I remember saying, “I really feel like that’s for me, but I can’t think of anyone in my family that I need to reconcile with.”
Five days later, on a Friday night, I received a Facebook “friend request” from someone I had never seen — it was my father. In complete shock, I sat there just staring at the request, my heart and mind racing. Hours later and still shaken, I accepted his “friendship” request.
Then, on Sunday, one week from the day that I felt the worship pastor’s words sink deep into my heart, I received this Facebook note:
Amanda, I don’t really know how to start this, so I just will. I’m your dad, your mom just contacted me, so now I know where you are. I know your grown and have your own family, but if you wish to get to know me; I would really like that. I would love to get to know you and your children and husband. you can find some basics about me on facebook or message me and we can talk, if you like. God bless and have a great day.”
There were many more Facebook messages, a lot of questions, and eventually phone calls and texts. We got to know one another and heard each other’s stories.
Just a few short years before, he had accepted Christ following his incarceration for a DWI. His life was totally different; he had been clean from drugs and alcohol for two years. Not only that, but he had also met and recently married a Christian woman, bought a house, found good work, and was even in college, determined to become an addictions counselor.
We began talking about meeting one another, even scheduling several meetings, but conflicts and unforeseen circumstances kept interfering.
God’s timing, not mine….
Fourteen months after the initial Facebook contact, my husband and I were able to meet my father on Easter Sunday, discovering just a couple of days before that my father was getting baptized at his local church.
We had a four hour drive to his home, and although I was nervous, I was confident that our meeting would go fine because I had waited on the Lord, obeyed Him, and trusted Him — His timing is perfect.
During his baptism, I thought about all of the years that I wondered about my dad and prayed for him. I was overcome with thankfulness to the Lord, for His patient hand in my life and the amazing way He orchestrated everything so perfectly. Had I met my father just a few years earlier, a face to face meeting could have been devastating — he openly shared about the type of person he had been and it wasn’t good.
I was also very thankful that while I was waiting, praying, and trusting, God had helped me walk through forgiveness, forgiving my dad for the decisions he made in his life that affected mine. Watching firsthand as he got baptized, I was again reminded of that forgiveness, but more importantly the forgiveness that our Heavenly Father extends to each and every one of us — He washes our past clean!
As you could expect, we still have a lot to learn about one another, but I am confident that as we pursue this newly reconciled relationship that God’s blessing is upon it.
I don’t know who or where you are, what life has thrown at you, but, like me, I encourage you to trust the Lord. Trust that He has a perfect plan for your life — that as you pursue Him, He will guide and direct you. Trust, that even through life’s ups and downs, He is faithful. Trust that He knows you and knows what and when you need it. And, trust that He loves you — loves you enough to make His timing in our lives perfect!