It’s Never Too Late for God’s Kind of Healing

By Keith Miller | April 27, 2009

Keith, how does a man get reconciled with his father? I never was close to mine and he is very sick, maybe dying. I’m afraid he’s going to die and we’ll never be close. They tell me not to push the issue now, but if I don’t, I’ll never get closure with him. Any ideas?

Some questions I can’t relate to but this one I can. My father died when I was about twenty-two, and I thought I’d lost my chance. But about twenty-five years later I had a chance after all.It happened like this.

I was alone in an old house at the beach. A Norther was blowing rain sideways and whipping tall palm trees like buggy whips. And suddenly there my father was on the stage of my mind.I spoke to him as the storm raged outside.

How long has it been since I allowed your face out of the black basement of my unconscious? Three, five, ten years? No, not so long. But sitting here on a stormy day with everyone else scurrying in the rain to do the things they have to do, I am home alone. Fifty-five years sliding back toward twelve nestled in the familiar comfortable silence of this house with the ever present wind outside whining in from the Gulf outside in sheets of rain, like giant mewing tabby cats crying to come in from the rising storm.

Then there you were! My long dead father, full blown like a giant cash register number suddenly punched into view. And, as unbidden as your face, came the waves of anger belching up from deep in the dark waters of my soul.

There we were, confronting each other for the first time in some primal way—two men now, yet one a boy with wreckage of the awe and fear still swirling around the now emerged father face.

“Dad,” I said in a voice surprisingly deep and strong, fueled by an ancient rage. “I hate your guts for not loving me, for preferring Earle when I needed a father more than God Himself. I hate you for never letting me know how you felt in ways I could understand. I became a tall athletic challenger filled with intensity, exuding confidence and faith, but fearful as an unwanted child inside—which I felt I was.”

Your face looks sad—and something else: Is it fear? It is!

In a moment, as if you were a lamp and a light had gone on inside you, I could see—that you’d been afraid and lonely too. And that youdidn’t even know how to tell me that you loved me—if you did. And that you were as afraid of me somehow, as I of you. I saw in those seconds before the lamp cord was pulled into blackness again, that my mother had trained me as a warrior to do battle with you because she was angry and hurt that you couldn’t tell her that you loved her either.

No wonder you didn’t like me. I was smart and quick and tough like my mother, a trained survivor in passive aggressive sheep’s clothing. And my family task was to pry open that iron mask you wore and free you for us all from the emotional tomb into which you were locked—before you choked to death on the blinding black beard, locked in there behind the stolid metal face.

In that moment of illumination, my rage engulfed you, a huge wave crashing against the shore, and then you were gone. And what moved gently back toward me down the beach was a sliding backwash of sadness. I saw your reflection in the wet sand, a frightened man trying, like me, to be more than he was.

And sitting there alone with your memory, as the storm was now spent outside, I felt forgiveness welling up, and a kind of compassion and recognition of one man by another—both of us powerless to make things right. But in some strange way I was now the father, and you the helpless son.

I told you as gently as I could, “I realize you had no one to teach you how to live. But I’ve found people who could teach me, love me as I am, and give me tools to find and face my fears. I…I love you Dad—though I confess I don’t know how a man can love a father (how it works). But I ask your forgiveness for the times I shut you out to hurt you, because that’s all I knew to do—not dreaming that you, too, might be hiding in there afraid and all alone.

“But I’ve found God somehow, and I want you to know that I forgive you for ignoring me—or whatever it was you really did. Now I’m going on and live my own life.

“I pray that you and I can now find rest and freedom. But I do know that I can never release you from your prison. That’s God’s job and yours.

“With His help, I’ve just done mine.”

Lord, I am so grateful that You’re not bound by our limitations of time, strength, and even death, and that Your reconciling love can roll back the stones when we’re ready, and release us and those we love from the tombs we’ve been buried in, even for years sometimes.I am grateful that you specialize in transcending our shallow “logical” contemporary wisdom about such things. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.” 2 Samuel 14:14 (NIV)

Topics: Christian Living, Weekly Devotional | Comments Off on It’s Never Too Late for God’s Kind of Healing
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