As Father's Day is fast approaching, my husband, Fred, and I no longer have a father to celebrate with. My dad went home to be with the Lord on June 28, 2003, and Fred's dad joined him on May 15, 2012.
Father's Day is a day to remember our dads and give thanks for many precious memories. Some of you men may remember how your dad played baseball with you as a little boy and attended all of your games as you became a young man. Perhaps he took you hunting, fishing or to car races. Your dad taught you to honor your mother and treat your siblings with love and respect. Most of all, he was always ready to lend a hand and coach you in the game of life, even into your adult years, and tell you how proud he was of you.
Some of you ladies may remember sitting on your dad's lap as a little girl while he placed his arms around you and whispered in your ear that you were his little princess. He would tell you how special and pretty you were and how much he loved you. As you grew into the teen years, he was there to protect you from boys that didn't show you respect and teach you about your self-worth. Most of all, he was always ready and willing to listen and give you encouragement when your heart was broken.
These are great memories ... aren't they? However, what about men and women who don't have those precious memories?
I would like to introduce to you the best father of all! God will never let you down. No matter what you are going through in this life, He is here right now.
Maybe you have never known your birth father or have experienced abuse or abandonment by your father. Think of this: You have a father who has picked you out for himself as his own! He will never abuse or abandon you. You are precious in his sight. He has been calling out your name! You are not a mistake.
You were placed here by God. He knew you from the beginning, before you were in your mother's womb. It doesn't matter how you were born or who your parents are. We all have an innate longing to be loved. Whatever you have desired from your earthly father, your heavenly father is here to fill that vacuum within your heart. Maybe you couldn't talk to your father about your problems ... your daddy, God, is here to listen. God loves you and has a great plan for your life.
For many years, I saw my dad as a warden. He was a very strict and serious man. I was a prisoner of the fear of him. He wasn't one to express his emotions and never told me that he loved me. Because my focus was on my dad meeting my emotional needs, I failed to look at all of his attributes.
In 2001, I asked the Lord to shine His light on the dark areas in my life. He showed me unforgiveness in my heart towards my dad. I had certain expectations of how my dad should love me. Because he wasn't able emotionally to show that love, I had judged his love for me. The day the Lord showed me the unforgiveness in my heart, I took a pen and paper and prayed for all the situations in which I had unforgiveness. I wrote each one of them and then lifted them up to the Lord and said, "I forgive." I didn't forgive him because I felt like it; I forgave him because I chose to obey God.
God gave me a vision of myself coming out of a sewer. He showed me that all this garbage was buried inside of me. I had crawled underground in my emotions and had put the lid on. Now I was coming up quickly from being buried under all this excretion of pain and suffering and was taking the lid off! It was no longer buried because I was allowing God to take control of this dark area in my heart.
Did you notice that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling? The message that God has given me for the church is: "It's time to heal the church to heal the world!"
Many of you are wounded, which has caused you to live in bitterness, resentment, anger and unforgiveness. I have heard of siblings that haven't spoken to their parents or other siblings because of jealousy or disagreements for many years. Or maybe some of you haven't spoken to your children for years. I believe that saddens the heart of God. Staying bitter and resentful is such a waste of life.
God sees your pain and is sensitive to what happened to you. However, He wants you to allow Him to heal your heart! As long as you hold onto the unforgiveness, you will not only continue to suffer but your loved ones will suffer too.
Yes, I said allow. God will not do what you can do. However, He will do what you can't do. You can't heal yourself. God is the heart-healer and mender of all your relationships. However, as long as you continue to justify your actions, you tie God's hands from working in your heart and the other person's.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop so your Father in heaven may also forgive your own failings and shortcomings and let them drop.
But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings. (Mark11: 25-26 AMP)
Sometimes our loved ones die suddenly and we don't get a second chance to tell them that we love them. God gave me that second chance, and I am so grateful! I believe a process of healing began in 2001 when I asked the Lord to shine His light on the dark areas in my heart and I made the choice to forgive him.
Are you holding any unforgiveness in your heart? May I encourage you to open up your heart and allow God to reveal any areas that have been wounded? Don't allow any unfinished emotional business to continue between you and your loved ones. Forgiveness is granting pardon for or remission of something; to cease to blame or feel resentment against. We can choose to forgive or hold unforgiveness in our heart. It's our choice of being bitter or better. If you are ready to allow God to do His work in your relationships, may I encourage you to pray this prayer?
Father ... thank you for convicting my heart today. Forgive me for allowing this unforgiveness in my heart that has caused a root of bitterness in my soul. I choose to forgive (name the person and situation to God), and I ask that you root out this pain and heal my heart and mind. I no longer want to do it my way, but I give you permission to work in this situation and everyone who is involved. Thank you for rooting out the bitterness and resentment in my heart and mind. I look forward with great expectation for you to show yourself strong in my life and theirs, in Jesus' Name. Amen!
Now that you have made the choice to forgive, may I encourage you to ask God to show you all the situations that you need to forgive? Then take a pen and paper and list each one of them and give them to the Lord by saying, "I choose to forgive!"
Forgiveness is the gift that keeps on giving. You will be amazed at how God will touch your heart and mind with His healing power. May you all have a very blessed Father's Day! God loves you and so do we!
Jenny Hagemeyer is the founder of Promise Land Ministries, in Belleville. She is an inspirational teacher and author of the "Touch Me" study and her latest book, "Lessons from Danny." For more information about the ministry, visit Hagemeyer's blog at promiselandministries.wordpress.com.