My Forever Father
April 10th usually comes and goes like most other days, but this year it felt different. My dad passed away 23 years ago that day. I can still close my eyes and walk right back into that hospital room. I remember how his calloused and heavy hand felt as I held it tightly and told him I loved him, asking him to please give me a sign that he was okay even though I knew life had left his body.
Everything had happened so fast. He was unconscious and on full life support by the time we arrived. I used to wear a ring he bought me on a chain around my neck, and I remember thinking that if I just took that ring off of the necklace and put it on my finger he would come back to life. This idea came to me right after we got the phone call about the accident. The entire car ride to the airport I kept sobbing and pushing that silver ring onto my finger. I guess that is what a 12-year-old comes up with when she learns that her dad is dying.
Crying Out to My Heavenly Father
I didn’t know how to pray, and I am not sure I had ever spoken the precious name of Jesus Christ. But on April 10th, my heart ached in a new way. I lost my dad, and I knew I needed a father. Far from grasping the beautiful mystery that is the Gospel, I stood beside that hospital bed and cried out to an invisible God, a “Heavenly Father” I had heard about throughout my childhood but had never called to in desperation.
I Took a Step Toward My Forever Father
So, on April 10, 1999, I said an excruciating goodbye to my earthly dad and took a step toward my Forever Father. I later told Him that I was afraid I needed more, that I had to see Him and know His presence. And in His grace and love, He showed me that “the Son is the image of the invisible God” — He introduced me to His fullness in Jesus Christ, and promised that He would never leave me. He said the very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead — HIS Spirit — would be with me always.
Today, over two decades after my dad passed away, my Heavenly Father is more than someone I cry out to when my heart aches: it is He who gives me life and breath and everything else. And my Father has a name, a name that carries unprecedented authority and limitless love, a name that makes the darkness tremble and brings me to my knees, a name that pours forth from my lips and brings peace that surpasses understanding: Jesus Christ! My Lord, Savior, King, Friend and Hope!
He Holds Me Close
His presence reminds me that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. He holds me close and catches my tears as I mourn again the loss of my dad tonight, and He will wake me up tomorrow with new mercy and morning joy. His kindness is unmatched and unending! Oh, how I long to spend forever praising the One who knows me fully and loves me still! And I sure hope my dad is there, too, free of the weight of this world and filled with a love he had heard about but had not yet experienced.
Until that glorious day, may the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The older photos were captured of my dad in his early 20s. It is weird to think that my dad didn’t know his life on earth was halfway completed when these were taken. What an incredible reminder to live each moment walking in prayerful and passionate purpose.
Your God is Near
If you’ve been waiting to see if God is real, the time is now. Cry out to Him tonight. He will answer. Your God is near. He loves you more than you know, dear friend!
Marissa is perpetually passionate about pointing hearts to the regenerating, restoring, and revolutionary love of God found in Jesus Christ! With a knack for identifying and encouraging the God-given gifts and strengths in others, Marissa longs to use her voice to speak life into every story and situation. Connect with Marissa at www.marissahays.com.