Thursday, October 22, 2009

You Never Outgrow Your Need for a Daddy

“A father to the fatherless . . . is God in his holy dwelling.”
—Psalm 68:5

Our three-year-old son has a vivid imagination and, to my chagrin, an aversion to silence. (Despite my friends’ warnings that boys don’t talk as much as girls, Buddy has always been a chatterbox. As my dad would have said, he “suffers from undelivered speech.”) So whenever he’s in the car with me, I can guarantee a lively conversation from the backseat.

On the way to his preschool today, I heard him calling out several animal noises—Neigh! Cock-a-doodle-doo! Roar!—from the backseat. Picking up on the game, I scanned the trees and buildings we passed by, trying to “find” each animal he called. (“Look, there’s a rooster!”)

At some point during the game, our son decided to act out an episode of WonderPets. He hollered out an animal noise—Moo!—and then quickly followed up with, “Oh no, Mama! There’s an animal in twouble!”

“Oh no!” I gasped. “Is it the cow?”

“Yes!” he said with urgency. “There’s a baby cow, and it’s stuck up in the twees!”

“Oh my goodness.” Suppressing a giggle, I tried to sound appropriately concerned. “That’s terrible. We better save that poor calf!”

“Yeah!” he agreed. “I’ll be the guinea pig. You be the turtle!” (Apparently he doesn’t know the WonderPets characters’ names.)

“Okay. Let’s go save the calf!” I said in my best turtle voice. “We have to do teamwork, okay? I’m driving, so you’ll have to find the baby cow. Can you do that?”

“Yes, I can!” Buddy said proudly. A few seconds later, I heard him pipe up from the backseat, “Look, there he is!” He narrated his dramatic rescue of the calf from its precarious perch, culminating with, “I saved him!”

“Congratulations, Buddy. That’s great,” I assured him. Thinking of what always happens at the end of WonderPets, I suggested, “Do you want me to go get the calf’s mommy, so she can hug him and give you some celery?”

“No!” he insisted emphatically, to my surprise. “He needs to be safe now. He needs his daddy.”


What is it about a father that makes us feel safe? No matter how independent, strong-willed, or self-sufficient we make ourselves out to be, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that deep down, there’s a fearful place inside our hearts, a place where we hide our achingly desperate need to feel secure, to know that Someone is taking care of us.

As many of you know, my dad died suddenly and very unexpectedly when I was in high school. I won’t bore you with the details, but I spent years trying to pretend that I could be strong enough, smart enough, and independent enough to ignore that gaping hole in my heart. I didn’t even allow myself to grieve Dad’s death until almost a decade later. And to this day, I still can’t watch a father walking his daughter down the wedding aisle or see a dad show affection toward a grown daughter without feeling a gnawing physical ache, a deep longing for my own father.

I know other people whose fathers are alive—but emotionally far away. Adults who left home long ago to build their own lives, but they are still desperately seeking their father’s approval, crying out for attention, affirmation, for anything. No amount of success, no achievement, not even a loving family of their own can quench the thirst for their own father to say, “Well done.”

For those of us who no longer have fathers on this earth—and for those whose fathers are achingly far away—I want you to know something today. Take these words and tuck them into that secret place in your heart, the place where you long for a father to make you feel safe.

We have a heavenly Father who will never leave us or forsake us. He is “the helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14 NIV).

Whenever you crave the security and safety of a daddy’s arms, remember that you are “loved by God, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1 MSG; emphasis added).

What kind of Father is our God?

He's the kind of Dad who takes off at a dead-run to embrace you. A Father who is overjoyed to see you, forgives you, and lavishly celebrates your return, no matter how far away from Him your life’s journey has taken you (Luke 15:11-24).

He’s the kind of Dad who completely removes your disgrace and wipes away all your tears (Isaiah 28:5).

And best of all, whenever you feel scared and alone, He’s the Father who “will be right there with you; he'll keep you safe and sound” (Proverbs 3:26).

Because the truth is, no matter how old you are, you never outgrow your need for a Daddy.