My dad is not a nice guy. And that’s me being nice. All seven of his ex-wives left him because he was abusive to both them and their children. And he was a horrible father. He once told me that no man would ever love me, and that I would grow up to be a good-for-nothing fat-ass. And he wasn’t even drunk then. My younger brother once accidentally left the refrigerator door cracked a little; my dad kicked him over and over again until he was satisfied that my helpless little brother wouldn’t make that mistake again. Jimmy was six years old at the time. I’ll never be able to get that out of my head, and I’m sure Jimmy won’t either. But I would put money on it that my dad doesn’t even remember that one. I’ll stop there with the stories because I’m sure you get the point. He’s a real peach. I’ve never written about him before. I’ve always been really conflicted about it. But today is the day. My heart is on fire to tell you a story.
For years, I was the last hold-out among his children, the last one to hang on for dear life to a relationship with my father. The others gave up long before I did. I’m just not the girl who quits on people. I never have been. Perhaps because I’ve been quit on a few times and because I happen to think those people should have held on, that it would have been worth it if they had just held on…
But finally he did something so unforgettable that I could no longer trust him. I had four children at this point, and I knew I could never bring them around him again. And l felt the boulder of burden lift away as I prayed to forgive my father and to let him go. I often worry about him. I worry about when he gets older, and frailer, that he’s going to get sick someday or get in another motorcycle accident, and he won’t have anyone—because he’s burned all his bridges and alienated everyone except whoever happens to be his flavor-of-the-year girlfriend. And she surely doesn’t even know my name, maybe not even that I exist. So when something happens to him, will I even know? When he’s on his deathbed, will I even find out? In a sense, I have already said goodbye to my dad, but I can’t help but wonder if I will ever see his face again. Will I get to hold his hand when he’s safely frail and old and tell him that I forgave him and loved him all along anyway?
A few years ago, right in the middle of our time in Japan, God gave me an unforgettable dream. Just a few times in my life, I’ve had dreams like this—where I knew it was from Him. In my dream, my father had died, and my brother and I and our two half-siblings from a previous marriage of my dad’s had all been notified and summoned to an attorney’s office for the reading of his will. It was so real. I can still see the round mahogany table and the leather chairs in the conference room. There’s a woman there whom I’ve never seen. She’s my dad’s current girlfriend; she’s a Farrah Fawcett-haired blonde, and she’s chewing gum and very cavalier about the situation. My brother and I are somber, just waiting for the attorney so we can get this over with. The attorney comes in and immediately lists off my dad’s assets (which are sizable), and announces that my father left everything to this woman. He left nothing at all to his children, but he had wanted us present at the reading of his will anyway. I sat and soaked it in for a moment, the subtext of this news. It wasn’t that I cared that I wasn’t getting anything from him; this final exclusion from his heart, an omission pregnant with apathy, was just too much for me to bear. I was uncontrollably weeping in my dream, alone now in the conference room, when suddenly I heard the Lord over the loudspeaker of my dream and heart, over and over again:
“Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your reward.”
Over and over again until my broken heart quieted enough to hear Him. He kept saying it until I understood.
I awakened from that dream weeping with joy. My Father in heaven had made a promise to me, to fulfill the wildest dream of my heart—a dream that He put there because it’s from His very own Heart, and I am His daughter. For His glory to be revealed to the remotest corners of the earth, my heart was forever branded. This dream, His ultimate dream, is the most precious gift He could possibly impart to me–so magnificent in scope, infinite in worth. The colorful, beautiful nations gathered around His throne in white-hot worship, offering to the Lamb who was slain the reward of His suffering. This is it for me. It’s all that I want. It’s all that I ask for, Lord.
Although my passion has waned throughout the years, and I’ve made many mistakes, one thing remains: the very center of my heart yearns for nothing else at the end of this life than to know that I have loved Him with all that is within me and that I have spent all that I have on the gospel for His glory among the nations.
I have a Father.
He knows my name.
He has not forgotten me.
And He has promised me a great inheritance because I am His daughter.