Today I decided to check out my top 25 most played songs on my iPod. Undeniably, the song that I play the most is Fred Hammond’s “My Father Was/Is.” It opens as follows:
Who was there when I first opened up my eyes?
And who was there to heal the hurt
when I first learned to ride?
and who would never miss a game?
celebrate me won or loss?
yes my Father was
Fred and I were in the same boat. He grew up without the presence of his biological father in his life. No games, no birthday parties, no father/son catch, no watching sports together. I love this song. It serves to encourage those who grew up like me. It makes you re-evaluate things in light of God’s presence in your life, even when you couldn’t feel Him.
On my way to the gym yesterday, I caught a segment about the absence of fathers in the lives of their children. A six-year-old girl called in. She sincerely stated that she had not heard from her daddy in four years. She went on about how she waited by the phone for her daddy to call her when she got home from school during the week and on weekends.
The radio went silent.
What could you say to the little girl at this point? Don’t worry about him? I know how that little girl felt. Growing up, when my father called me, it was a big deal. My siblings had their fathers around. They were accessible. Mine wasn’t. And when he didn’t call, it hurt. At the time, I didn’t want to hear, “don’t worry about him.” I just wanted to talk to daddy.
It took me years to forgive my biological father and reconcile with him. All those games he missed, all the trophies, all the scholastic accomplishments. Of course mom was around. She cheered louder than any other person in the gym. But nothing could replace a father’s approval. The first time I heard Fred’s “My Father Was/Is” over 10 years ago, I cried. At this point I realized who this Father was. I realized that God had been present with me all this time. He never missed a game, didn’t care if I won or lost, picked me up when I fell…He was My Father.
I have two really close friends who had sons a few years ago. They are both wonderful men of God and I consider them brothers. They had the same experience I had growing up. Their biological fathers were not present in their lives. One day one of them told me something I’ll never forget.
He said, “John, I will use everything within me to be the father that I did not have for my son.”
He was sincere and made the statement with such conviction. I joked with him often about carrying his “man purse” around (i.e. diaper bag, et al.), but this brother absolutely adores his little man. To see the love that he has for him demonstrates the redemptive power of Christ that works to break generational curses. I, too, share the same conviction regarding fatherhood. I, too, have vowed to raise my children in affirming, loving ways. I’ve vowed to be active and present in their lives on a daily basis.
I’m excited about ministry, but I’m more excited about my first ministry…my family.
So I thank Fred for putting into words what I missed in my childhood. It made me realize that I talked to Daddy every night when I was young. Every time I started “Now I lay me down to sleep…” I was picking up heaven’s receiver to commune with my Father. My Father indeed Was and Is.