This weekend is Father’s Day when hopefully earned appreciation is expressed for meaningful and positive contributions on the part of dads. I don’t think anyone questions the fact that missing fathers is the major reason for many of society’s failures. You don’t have to examine the inner city or areas of poverty without readily noticing the absence of men in their rightful place within the family unit. This is one reason I have such great appreciation for pastors and church leaders like my good friend Dr. Tony Evans at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship who has put in place very effective mentoring programs that affect public school students who are so often in homes where dad is missing.
I understand the negative effect and the sadness in a child’s life when the father is nowhere to be found. Some of you are familiar with the fact that the man who forcefully impregnated my 41-year-old mother Myra was an alcoholic. To say I never knew him is no exaggeration. I know that even at age 66 I still deal with challenging issues related to his absence.
I always felt I would have been a good “best little buddy” for a dad who simply wasn’t there. I must add very quickly, however, that somehow perhaps with the few years of exposure to Rev. H.D. Hale, a pastor who welcomed me into his home and gave me the privilege of calling him “daddy,” I did come to know the ultimate Father. This Father, who is God Almighty, invites all of us to know Him personally and in such an intimate fashion that we can call Him “Abba, Father” which is another expression for “daddy.” I have developed a very meaningful and transforming relationship with my heavenly Father. He is without a doubt my very best friend, and yes, I know He loves me and He makes me aware of it on a daily basis.
I do believe that the absence of my earthly father has led me to an understanding of the importance of dads in the home, but also how imperative it is that we have a personal relationship with God the Father. When I look at the fruit of my marriage to Betty and look back over my life as a father, I can honestly ask if I did many things really right, especially when I didn’t have the parental guidance in my own life that is so important. I can easily find areas where I know I absolutely missed the mark. Yet when I look at the beautiful lives our children live and the loving leadership they provide for their children, I have to think we must have done something right. One thing I know beyond any doubt is that during our journey as parents, our children were inspired or motivated through some wonderful influence to look beyond me and see theFather, the One who is perfect in every way. They not only saw Him, they were drawn to Him and fell in love with Him. They have imparted that love to our grandchildren and it is beautiful to behold.
I share this with the hope that anyone who faces seemingly impossible challenges can see that through the grace and power of a loving Father you can still have a stable, secure and joyful life. I know this beyond any doubt firsthand.
There are a few experiences with my father I think might be important to share. During my late teens Joe Bailey Robison (my earthly father) spent several years in prison for various crimes. When Betty and I knew we were to marry, my birth mother would not sign consent papers. At the time of our marriage in 1963 parental consent was required for anyone under 21 years of age. My father signed the consent papers while in prison. There was no doubt Betty and I were to marry even at age 19. I’ve often said, “Thank God my father finally did something meaningful for me by enabling me to marry the beautiful, precious person I have spent my life with.” You can read our story in a book to be released in September relating our 47 years of marriage entitled Living in Love. I believe you will find it very inspirational, and especially enjoy hearing Betty express her heart, as so many friends have shared the desire to know her better and hear her more often and more fully.
After Betty and I had been married a few years and had a beautiful little girl, Rhonda, my alcoholic father suddenly entered our lives. He moved to the Houston area and I tried to get him help with a ministry working with addicts. He did not make positive progress. One day as I drove home from San Jacinto Junior College where I was attending, I saw a man lying in the gutter face down. I pulled my car over to see if I could help and as I knelt down and rolled the man over looking into his face, I realized it was my own father. He was in such a drunken stupor, he had fallen face down by the curb. With the help of another passerby, I was able to get him into the car. I took him to the house (a mobile home that Betty and I were living in) and I put a chair in front of the trailer, because I could not trust my own father in the house with my wife and little girl while I was in school. That is a very sad reality and tragically I sense that it is the story of many today.
A few days later I put him in a room and provided the money for food and asked for someone to look after him while I took care of my family and attended classes. One afternoon when I dropped by to see him, I found that he had coerced some of the people near the complex to go and buy him some alcohol. He had gotten so drunk he couldn’t get out of bed, and he had actually thrown up all over his shirt. I remember as though it were yesterday dropping down on my knees by the bed and pulling my alcoholic father, a man I had never known, who had never told me he loved me, never bought me a bite of food, a pair of shoes, or provided anything in my behalf. I pulled his chest up against mine and looked in his eyes and bearded face and said, “I don’t know you, but I love you and I really want the best for you.”
I told him about Jesus and how much God loved him. Over the coming months and years, I never saw a change in my father. I actually witnessed to him a few days before he put his head on the pillow, fell asleep and died that night. He had scleroses of the liver and diabetes from extreme alcoholism.
I have often hoped that some day when I get to heaven and see the throngs around Jesus, there will be a hand waving through the crowd and a voice shouting, “Son, look here! It’s your dad!” and discover that somehow in the last days or hours after I had witnessed to him, he actually invited Jesus into his heart and came to know God the Father. Yes, I believe that’s possible because we have a God so full of amazing grace. That would be one of the joyful surprises in heaven if my father was there.
I wish there had been a dad in my life, but I am so grateful to know the Father that anyone can know. He is so indescribably awesome, so full of love and mercy. He offers forgiveness and life to every person on earth and I want everyone to know that with all the gratitude we should have for fathers who were in place and did their best, we must recognize that if somehow they helped point us to the Father, it’s the greatest gift a parent can offer a child. This grace gift is available to you and everyone you know.
I pray that you have a father you can express some form of gratitude and appreciation for on this special weekend. But above all, give thanks to God the Father for His love and the fact that regardless of our background or the painful experiences of a childhood, we can all know a heavenly Father in the most personal way.
Dads, may I close by saying one of the greatest expressions of security you can give your child is to show them how much you love their mom? Thanks to God and thanks to every father seeking to love their spouse and their children in a meaningful way.
May God help all of us to know the Father more fully and express His love more freely. Have a blessed Father’s Day and live to share the blessings of the heavenly Father with others.
Perhaps you will appreciate and be encouraged by the following truths from “Father God’s Love Letter” (www.fathersloveletter.com):
Father God’s Love Letter to You
These words come from the very heart of God. He loves you, and He is the One you have been looking for all your life. Celebrate His love…
You may not know me, but I know everything about you – Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up – Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways – Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered – Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image – Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being – Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring – Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived – Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation – Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book – Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live – Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made – Psalm 139:14
And brought you forth on the day you were born – Psalm 71:6
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you – 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your father – 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could – Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father – Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand – James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs – Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope – Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love – Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore – Psalm 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing – Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you – Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession – Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul – Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things – Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me – Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart – Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires – Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine – Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you – Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart – Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes – Revelation 21:3-4
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth – Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus – John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed – John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being – Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you – Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you – 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love – Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me – 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again – Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen – Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father – Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is – Will you be my child? – John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you – Luke 15:11-32
Love, Your Dad, Almighty God