I Saw a Man Lying in the Gutter … It Was My Father

A Fatherless Nation, Part Two

By James Robison Published on August 8, 2019

I personally understand the negative effect of fatherlessness. Born the product of a forced sexual relationship to a single woman and living without a father did unspeakable damage to me as a boy and a human being. All my efforts to fill that vacuum with any source other than a relationship with God were in vain. When I gave my life to Jesus, He redeemed me and I moved from an orphan mentality to become a child of the Father.

There is no substitute for this relationship. The best of earthly fathers diligently seeking to be all they should be can never fully fill the void created by man’s fall from grace.

The most important contribution parents can make is to point their children to Father God. Great parents point their children to the Father. I know I missed the mark in many ways as a father, but by the grace of God our three children looked beyond this father and saw the Father and fell in love with Him. As a result, they have been effective parents and have clearly pointed to the importance of the Father, and our grandchildren have also fallen in love with Him while continually expressing their appreciation for their parents.

My Earthly Father

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 going 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 twenty-one 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 nineteen. 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.”

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After Betty and I had been married a few years and had a 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 enrolled, I saw a man lying facedown in the gutter. I pulled over to see if I could help, and as I knelt down and rolled the man over, I realized it was my own father. He was in such a drunken stupor that he had fallen facedown by the curb. With the help of another passerby I was able to get him into my car, and then I took him to the mobile home Betty and I were living in.

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 buy him some alcohol. He had gotten so drunk he couldn’t get out of bed, and he had thrown up all over his shirt.

I remember as though it were yesterday dropping down on my knees by the bed and pulling out of bed my alcoholic father, a man I had never known, who had never told me he loved me, and who never bought me a bite of food, a pair of shoes, or provided anything on 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 shared the gospel with him a few days before he put his head on the pillow, fell asleep, and died. He had sclerosis of the liver and diabetes from extreme alcoholism.

I hope that someday 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 invited Jesus into his heart and came to know God the Father. 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.

The Father Anyone Can Know

I wish there had been a dad in my life, but I am so grateful to know the Father anyone can know. He is indescribably awesome, full of love and mercy. He offers forgiveness and life to every person on earth. This grace gift is available to you and everyone you know.

Please hear my heart as I diligently seek to point all people to the only One who can connect you and others to the Father all hearts long for. Fatherlessness must no longer be used as an excuse for detrimental choices. I know personally that the only perfect solution to the painful scars of fatherlessness is found in the perfect Father and the perfect Son and the indwelling Spirit of both.

The most important contribution we can make as parents and as Christian witnesses is to inspire people to know personally and intimately the Father in heaven by receiving the Son and yielding to His Spirit in every area of their lives.

When we put King Jesus in charge, we will begin experiencing and expressing His kingdom life. The power of this kingdom release will positively impact all earthly kingdoms and all people. This unshakable kingdom will point people and nations to the only sound, secure and stable foundation upon which futures can be built with meaning and purpose. Our lives will become the well-watered garden of God and an ever-flowing spring of His love. To Him be the glory forever and ever!


Read “A Fatherless Nation” Part One here. 

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