As I prepare my sermon for Father’s Day, I am having a rough time writing. My sermon is uncharacteristically based on only one verse. While I do not use the exegetical approach known as text proofing, I am led to Psalm 68:5 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (NIV).
What exactly does that phrase mean? How does one father the fatherless? Growing up, I did not have a biological father living in my home. As a matter of fact, I do not know a single person on my father’s side of the family. That also includes my father. I have no way of contacting him nor do I really know his name.
My mother moved back to her home when she was pregnant with me (She was the oldest of 9 and only 20 when she had me). I lived with 3 uncles, 5 aunts, my mother’s parents, and my sister. We all lived in a three bedroom one bath house with a garage which was converted to an extra bedroom. I did not realize that my home life was considered different until I was in high school. In the chaos of such a tiny space, I discovered the love of family and discovered that God loved even the likes of me.
Perhaps Psalm 68:5 became real to me in the lives of the mighty men who became my mentors throughout my life. I think of my grandfather, who died when I was only 18 years old. I think of his inexhaustible love and knew that I had security throughout my childhood. I think of Alan, the music director at my church where I discovered that I had a talent and a passion for music. I think of Gonzalo my father-in-law, who trusted me enough to allow his daughter to marry me form a family. I think of Pastor W.C., while working for him as his music director, I finally answered my call to ministry. These were only a few of the men who guided me in ways that affirmed my very existence. God, through these wonderful men, became a father to me. I, who was fatherless, had many fathers.
There are men who had wonderful biological fathers. They are powerful and wonderful men who are a result of a love that taught them how to be men. Their fathers left their world newer and better because they were a part of their lives. I sometimes envy these men, because they grew up understanding the love of God so much better than I did. They had a living example of the kind of love a father has for his children in their very homes. Their example was present.
I truly believe that we are on a journey to make the most of our own paths. I believe that our paths all lead to one “prime mover” in the universe. That being is God. While it is easy to look at those who had wonderful biological fathers and be envious, I do not go that route. I appreciate and am very grateful for my own journey. Without traveling on my own road (meeting God on my own terms), I probably would not have met my wonderful mentors.
Father’s Day, to me, is not about celebrating with my biological father. Many people do celebrate with their dads and I am glad that they have that time to rejoice. I celebrate by remembering and giving thanks for the many men who shaped my thoughts on life, family, and God. It is through their actions that Psalm 68:5 becomes a living and breathing part of my life.