“Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” Hebrews 12:9-10

My father disciplined me for a little while as he thought best for me and I am thankful! Are you familiar with this verse “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”? (Matthew 7:11). What my father thought was best for me was in many ways evil and hurt me, but no blame, because he thought he was giving me his best and sincerely I appreciate his efforts in raising me up, God bless him. It isn’t always what people do to you that hurt you; mostly it’s what they don’t do for you while the bar of your expectations is so high, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” and in many ways what my dad didn’t do for me made my heart sick.

For those of you who don’t know my dad, here is a little bit of background for you: my dad is so old because of his late marriage at the age of 50, so I grew up in an environment where my friends at school and my community around me used to tell me: “your grandfather is so funny” and with a bitter smile I answer: “he is my dad”. He’s now 84 years old, in a good health and I’m believing for his salvation. He was always there to provide for me, I didn’t lack any material blessing at all, in fact I lived in abundance, in a big prosperous house, with the best games, the finest clothes, the best school and education in town … while I was living as a rich boy outwardly, I lived a severe poverty inwardly, in my emotions I was a beggar for the fatherhood love & affections. I don’t remember my dad playing with me or affirming me especially in my most time needed of my shaping as a man, more than that he didn’t model to me this strong father figure, where he rebukes me in doing wrong or even slap me! He was tender in character all the time, trying to correct me always with gentle words, until I hungered to see him slap me just to feel his strength, funny huh? He didn’t train me to carry responsibilities nor to face challenges, thus when I grew up the storms of life swallowed me; even I couldn’t stand its slightest breeze. I was so naïve inside and emptiness in me was horrible. I won’t discuss here the consequences of such things but believe me I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually sick and handicapped from head to toe. I was a living dead, well not quite, a living dead doesn’t feel, but I was feeling all the pain of the world. I was raised in a very beautiful home but because of my dad’s absence in my personal life I felt like an orphan homeless, I was lost in the rooms of my life and later I made it my aim to seek for the alternative as soon as I grow up and the world was gladly waiting for me with open arms to embrace a sinful life to journey from pit to a deeper pit and from deception to another.

Did I choose all that? Well some of it, I was aware that some decisions I should not have made but don’t blame a sick hopeless person, blame those who tasted the glory and forsaken it for the lesser. I think the prodigal son was crazy, how could he leave such a wonderful Dad? In the prodigal son’s story, I think the son was bad, in my story my father’s absence was bad. After I came to Christ, and his glorious light shone upon my darkness, I learned about the heavenly Dad but it was mere theology and head knowledge rather than a radical life changing experiences with him. If you were to ask me some spiritual questions, I would have raised my chin up and answered you boldly about my solid sound doctrine. I would have answered the same if you were to ask me about the trinity and the Heavenly Father but did I know him by experience? Not really! My friend, I tell you the truth, everything bad and deformed in my experience with my earthly dad was projected in my relationship with my Heavenly Father, without knowing. I always thought that this up there Father is distant, uncaring and an old guy on the throne. I always felt disconnected with him, I know he’s there hearing me and providing but I was not able to connect intimately with him. I treated him the same way I treated my dad, I used to bring him my list of needs in prayer to provide and then leave. I didn’t express my love to him and I didn’t think he would say it back to me or even wanted to touch me. My perspective of this perfect Dad who is like no other was deformed with the filter of my imperfect experiences. Until the moment my Heavenly Father started to visit me to introduce himself to me … and here my story begins!

Glory to God
Tony Francis

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