By Joe Torosian
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”—John 1:14
I usually don’t say too much on Father’s Day beyond, “It’s Father’s Day! And I want my cake!”
I seldom get that cake—especially when I use that tone.
But with this Father’s Day approaching, other thoughts have come to me.
I’ve been dwelling (I love the word “dwelling.” It makes me feel smart) in this place of love being between Grace & Truth…and it reminded me this morning that I never hated my father.
It’s natural, I know, not to hate your father. Even children who have been abused physically by their fathers find it difficult to hate them. My father’s sin was abandonment. I had a relationship with him, but many of my other siblings from his other marriages did not.
Did you see The Sting? And all the cool stuff the characters did to stick it to a real bad guy? My father was the alter ego of that story. He hurt good people. He was a grifter, charmer, and magician who took other people’s hearts and money.
At the end of his life, he had been married eight times, I know of two live-ins, and was technically engaged at the time of his death. This is what I know because there were long stretches—years—where I never saw or heard from him.
Was I sad that I didn’t have a dad like my friends had? Yeah. Was I heartbroken? No.
I won’t speak for my siblings, but I have no doubt he broke some of their hearts.
Looking back now, the miracle—for me—is I didn’t hate him. And he provided ample reasons to hate him. I got mad at him, I told him some harsh things, but I never hated him.
I say this for myself—with no pressure on my siblings to feel anything close to the same—I loved him.
As I’ve been thinking a lot about love and where it lands between Grace & Truth, I don’t know how–in any rational scheme of life–I continued loving him and never hating him.
He deserved to be hated.
But God works in the irrational. The Lord spared me rightful/just hatred and all that wasted emotion by loving me between Grace & Truth…And in a small way, I was able to extend that to my father at the end of his life.
Where am I going with all of this?
I arrived and remain in this extraordinary peace because when I was a kid, a bus came to the wrong side of the tracks and picked us up for church. And at that church, we weren’t given villains (outside of Satan) to hate. We weren’t coerced into victimhood. They never said it was all my father’s fault. And we were taught that WE (ourselves) had to make a decision for Jesus.
On that first Sunday—October 1, 1972—I wasn’t saved. I was introduced to Jesus. It took me a few years to figure it all out. Coming to church, not coming to church, thinking, deciding, and finally acting on what I’d been presented.
Ultimately, I chose Jesus…and my life was changed forever.
Jesus is not merely a Fire Insurance Policy.
It is a promise that a life lived in the parameters of Grace & Truth will always have access to the peace of God. I’m not saying we’re going to have peace in this world, but we’re going to have peace in the one who overcomes the world.
This, again, is a result of Jesus.
Why—within the church’s mission—would a church try to pass on and advance anything other than Jesus, Jesus crucified, the empty tomb, the power of the blood, and the need for repentance?
People need freedom…and far too often, the church, the theologians, the wisdom of the age puts them in chains. It makes them weeping victims and perpetually in search of new villains.
Jesus is not merely a Fire Insurance Policy.
Jesus is freedom from all that saddens our lives. This liberty is rooted between and extends no further than his Grace & Truth.
At the end of my father’s life, I got called to the hospital. He was tubed up, linked up, IV’d up, you name it. His eyes opened, and he smiled when he saw me. Knowing his past, knowing all the things he had selfishly done, it would have been so easy to say. “Can I get you something?”
Only saying that, at that moment, wouldn’t have been truthful…nor would it have demonstrated any love.
But Grace kept me bound in. I had been forgiven, I had never been forgotten, I had been redeemed.
I held his hand—acutely remembering all the wicked he had done to those who needed him—and said, “I’m not here as your son tonight. I’m here to tell you that you’re in a lot of trouble. You’ve done a lot of things and have a lot to answer for.”
He lived for another month, but his mind began to deteriorate day by day. Finally, he passed. My sister called to let me know. I went for a walk, I had no tears, but I did think about how marvelous our God is.
I’m confident about where my father is today. And that confidence is only possible because of the love we receive and advance within the parameters of Grace & Truth.
Joe T. is the author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…all five available through Amazon.com.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joet13b