I learned reverence, the fear of the Lord, the tenderness and acceptance of the Father. I learned how to approach God in prayer with both fear and confidence . I learned these things from my Daddy and I learned them from interrupting him while he was praying. These are the things I learned outside of his holy of holies while he was in the place of prayer. This is my picture of Father God and it is my Father’s legacy to me. It is the piece of inheritance from him that I will treasure most.
My Dad was raised in a legacy of prayer. When he fell away from the Lord his parents prayed in back from the edge of excess and self destruction. His Father, my Grandpa, was a fairly strict one room schoolhouse teacher so, true to his upbringing, my Father was also fairly strict; a strong leader in our home. There were rules. My brother and I were pretty good kids. We towed the line. My parents were the ones that we went to for permission, advice, and comfort. I’m not sure we ever quite broke into ‘friendship’, as some parenting styles go today, while I lived under their roof. But I grew up in a home that was warm, loving, guided and Christian. By Christian I do not mean we just went to church on Sundays or holidays or even just faithfully attended church events. No, my parents’ faith was a daily thing; a defining thing. No matter how early we woke up in the morning to tip toe down the stairs, our parents were each awake and alone in the house before we ever got up. They were alone with a cup of coffee, praying and reading their Bibles, a holy hush was over the house in the mornings where we found them at a desk with an open Bible and a journal. As we grew up and slept in we were seldom awake to witness the ‘devotions’, as they called them, but we knew that they happened during the early morning hours long before we got up.
But aside from these morning moments, what I remember most about my Dad were the evening hours where my Dad would disappear to his room. He would go up there to pray. He would pray for our church, for our pastors, for our nations leaders, for his family, for his wife… for us kids. In that room my Dad was most like God the Father and forever my living picture of tenderness and reverence that I imagine exists in the throne room of heaven.
I hated having to knock on that door while He was in there.
It did not happen often that we needed to interrupt my Dad’s prayer time, but my parents co-operatively parented and decided most things together. Running something by my Mom meant we were told ‘yes or no… but ask your Dad’ and asking my Dad meant the same thing, ‘yes or no…. but check with Mom’. Pitting my parents against each other or going around one parent to try to get something from the other by softening them up just didn’t happen. So if a decision needed to be made and Dad was long gone in his room, we were given permission by Mom to interrupt.
What I Learned from Interrupting My Dad and How it Formed My Picture of God the Father
The Fear of the Lord
It was outside that door that I learned the fear of the LORD. The fear of the Lord is not a hot topic these days. We love God to be familiar and overly accessible. He SO is! But as a child I learned the reverence for God the Father outside my Father’s door. I was always somewhat nervous about interrupting prayer time and having to knock on that door. I hated having to do it, so it had to be really important. This was no casual thing. There was a strong feeling of not wanting to tread carelessly on that holy ground. That strong feeling was weighed out against the need to speak to my Dad while he was praying. The posture I found him in was always the same. He was always there, beside his bed … kneeling. It was a holy place.
The Tenderness of Father God – We can Always Come Close
I don’t know WHY I was nervous because in all the times I knocked on that door never once was I met with an impatient response. My Dad NEVER told me to go away. The knock, was always met with a low quiet, ‘come in.’ In that place my Dad was not the Dad that I would find at other moments. He was never annoyed, short tempered, or impatient in his response. He was never jokey, which was also at times a part of his personality. He was … peaceful. He was tender. He was clear. … and he often wiped tears from his eyes. These were some of the only moments I caught my Dad wiping away evidence that he had been crying. If Moses shone coming down the mountain after speaking with God, my Dad’s face was as close as a mans ever was to shining…. at least in my eyes. Because of the tenderness I encountered on the other side of that door I learned to never avoid coming to God with my problems. No matter how holy God is, no matter how reverent a place His throne room is, it is always a place worth coming into. I have learned to knock and walk in not only with reverence but confidence.
His Decision was Always Easy to Accept in that Place
Like any child or teen, I didn’t always love my parent’s decisions. Why couldn’t I have another sleep over? Why couldn’t this person drive me home? Why can’t I see that movie? But when I would ask him in THAT place I don’t remember ever feeling angry about his decision. His ways, his reasons were easy to accept in that place. It was easy to be led from that position of Fathering, the position of kneeling, the position of serving.
My Words Need Only be Few
I did not blabber on and explain or give my opinion making a strong case for what I wanted like I may have in other moments. I simply asked and then waited for his answer back.
These moments of finding my Dad in the place of prayer became a lens of how I see God the Father and how I enter into a holy place in prayer to speak with him. The word ‘holy’ means other than. This place was a place that was ‘different’, ‘other’ or set apart from other places I might find my Dad. Asking Dad’s permission while he was assembling a BBQ was different than asking him here while he was kneeling beside his bed. This place was ‘other than’ those places. It was holy. I learned to come with fear and reverence and yet I learned that there was nothing to fear. I learned to come with few words but honest words and then to spend more time just listening and accepting what He has to say. I learned to come with needs that were pressing knowing that what was important to me, would be important enough to Him. I learned to come softly, slowly and honestly into the holy hush of prayer. I learned what it means to take off my shoes and stand on holy ground. I learned this, from finding my Father alone in the place of prayer.
I say this also to remind us as women that perhaps it is not about being perfect all the time. We will not demonstrate the fruit we want to, to our kids all the time. Our kids will witness us having bad days and sometimes they will be the easy targets of those bad days. We will yell, we will lose our cool and come undone. We are not always patient, loving and kind to our kids. But our kids need to see the place and the One who causes us to be patient, loving and kind. Do they witness us in that place so they will one day know how to get there themselves? Do our kids SEE us finding our peace, finding our break through, finding our sanity so that they know how, where and from whom to get those things when they need them? Do we model that?
It haunts me because what will my children remember about me? Where will they find me most at peace? Will they remember from our house what the presence of God felt like, what it smelled like, how it tasted? Will it leave a mark on them?
Jesus said ‘If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.’ – Matthew -John 14:9 CEV
Is there a place in our lives and in our house where kids will see and witness what God the Father looks like through us? This Father’s Day may we remember that we ALL should look like and represent the God the Father in someway. And I pray that through us, Mothers and Fathers, that our kids will know the Father and His goodness, will pass before them.