I recently traveled back to my hometown to visit a cousin. She was staying with a longtime friend.
When I got to the door, her friend welcomed me with a smile.
But I knew that she didn’t immediately recognize me.
When I was introduced as “Gordie’s daughter,” she made the connection.
She knew my father personally and her regard for him was evident in the way she spoke about him.
She shared stories about my father : times when he came into her restaurant and how he conducted business at the plant.
How lovely it was to sit and share stories about him, especially with someone who had felt his kindness.
It made me feel closer to him.
I love sharing stories about my father.
I remember I was in college, feeling kind of grown up and away from home for the first time.
I became sick and it was determined that at the age of 19, my tonsils needed to come out.
Because of some issues, I needed to stay in the hospital overnight.
I assured my father that I would be fine and did not need him to be there.
I am an adult now after all, I thought to myself.
But when I woke up in pain in that hospital bed, I knew that the little girl inside still wanted her father.
And there he was sitting by my side.
He knew what I needed even if I did not.
There was another time where my father took me shopping at a strip mall the next town over.
I think I might have been around 11.
Murphy’s. Fashion Bug, Thom McCann and a pizza place.
Trust me when I tell you this was a big deal back then,
We stopped for some pizza and when he made a trip to the bathroom when we were done,
I made a beeline for the Ms Pac Man machine in the back. Positioned at the machine, I did not
notice him leaving. He must have thought I left to go back to one of the stores. The next 10
minutes were some of the worst moments my father used to say of his life. He searched
frantically for me, up and down the strip mall, fearing that I had gotten lost or worse. It wasn’t
until he saw the orange sleeve of my jacket peeking out from behind the arcade machine that he
realized where I was. He was so relieved to see me, he didn’t get mad that I had wandered off.
I knew he would always find me.
We lived through some wonderful memories and some that were not so wonderful.
I remember my father walking me down the aisle on my wedding day.
I also remember the day we were both having radiation treatments at the cancer center, both
fighting two different types of cancer at the same time.
My father was there in good times and in hard times.
He was always there when I needed him.
That could be in part because my parents lived with me. I got to experience him as a father and
a friend in my adult life. I also witnessed him as a grandfather to my sons, Jon and Dan.
My favorite images are my father with his arms wide open and Dan running into them after he
got off the school bus.
He always welcomed us with open arms.
There is another image in my mind of my father that always leaves me filled with a bit of regret.
As I sat on the couch one day doing paperwork, he came in and sat down.
He smiled at me.
I knew that he was just waiting to engage in conversation, but I was too busy trying to get my paperwork done.
He just sat there quietly waiting for me to turn my face to him.
He just wanted to be in my presence.
I wish I would have unbusied myself more.
The older I get, the more I understand the importance of this.
I was blessed to be called his daughter.
While I love sharing stories about my father, I know that none of you reading this here will ever experience his love the same way that I did.
How could you? You didn’t know him.
And I know that there are some reading this who do not have the same relationship with their father that I did.
Maybe sharing stories about your father is hard.
But friends, we can all have a relationship with our heavenly Father.
” What marvelous love the Father has extended to us!
Just look at it—we’re called children of God!
That’s who we really are.
But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us
or take us seriously, because it has no idea
who He is or what He’s up to.” 1 John 3 : 1 MSG
The world will have no idea who our Father is unless we share His stories.
I also love sharing stories about Him.
Let me tell you about our Father.
He knows our needs before we do.
“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8 MSG
Just like my earthly father knew I needed him to show up at the hospital, our heavenly Father knows our every need.
Sometimes it is a word of encouragement, the counsel of a friend.
It could be a prayer, a meal, or someone showing up when you need a helping hand.
Our heavenly Father knows our needs.
I can tell you that as I was preparing this message to share at church a friend texted me that
she was praying for me as I was praying for me.
Her timing was God’s timing.
He knew I needed that encouragement.
He will find you wherever we are.
“For the Lord God says: “I will search and find my sheep.” Ezekiel 34 :11
I knew that my earthly father would find me when he thought I was lost.
But to think of the God of the universe cares for me in this way?
Think of the number of children our heavenly Father has, and yet will still search even just one who is lost.
Maybe you are feeling lost today,
I promise you your heavenly Father will find you wherever you are.
In good times and in hard times, He is with us always.
My father was always there when I needed him.
Our heavenly Father has always been there for me as well.
There is nowhere I can go that He is not.
That gives me such peace.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139 : 7-12
Did you know that there is nowhere we can go that He isn’t there?
He wants to be a part of every aspect of our lives, good and bad.
He is all in.
He always welcomes us with open arms.
“All whom My Father has given to Me will come to Me.
I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me.”
My father always welcomed me with open arms.
Our heavenly Father has never turned me away.
There have been moments in my life where I moved away from Him, and He has always welcomed me back with open arms.
There is a verse in the song, “The Goodness of God” that says “I’ve known you as a Father, I’ve known You as a Friend.”
He has been those things to me and so much more.
Maybe there is something in your past or in your present that makes you question if God will
welcome you with open arms.
Let me tell you about our Father.
He will not turn you away .
He tells us in His word, that He will never turn anyone away who comes to Him.
He wants His children to be with Him for eternity.
Just like my father wanted to spend time in my presence, our heavenly Father wants to spend time with us, too.
All of eternity to be exact.
God wants all of His children to come home someday.
He made a way for that to happen when He sent His Son to die on the cross and take our place.
“For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. ” John 3:16
Friends, He is just waiting for us to turn our face to Him, to unbusy our lives and to have a conversation with Him.
We are all invited to have a relationship with our heavenly Father and to experience His love in a real way,
It is the most important relationship you will ever have.
His love is transforming.
So I encourage you today to share stories about our Father so that others can experience that love as well.
Sharing our stories makes us feel closer to Him.
It’s ok if you read this and don’t know who I am.
But I want you to know who He is.
And if you remember nothing else today, remember this:
Because of our heavenly Father, we have never spent a day of our lives that we were not loved beyond measure.
That kind of love is transforming.
Share His love today.