Story of Wonder
We learn in 1 Chronicles 16 that telling stories of God’s goodness and giving thanks was at the center of Hebrew worship. The Israelites set aside time to practice gratitude within their worship by speaking of God’s mighty deeds and remembering his blessings, wonderful works, and faithfulness.
We’ve been asking folks in our community to share their Stories of Wonder at our public worship. These are stories of God working in our midst, speaking, leading, and providing for his people. This gives us an opportunity to rejoice in and recognize God’s powerful deeds, and it also trains us to pay attention to how God might be at work in our own lives. This one is from Brandon.
When I was one year old, my dad left and didn’t come back. Then my mom abandoned me. She would come back in the picture every once in a while, but it was my grandmother and aunt that raised me.
My dad somewhat came back into my life when I was in 4th grade. I would see him sometimes on holidays. But holidays were hard. For example, on Christmas a bunch of the extended family would get together for dinner and to open presents. All the kids would have their names in a hat, and someone would pull out a name to see who would open presents next. But my brother and I never had our names in the hat. We never got presents. Sometimes my dad would give us a present, but my brother and I knew that our aunt had bought it. That might not sound like a big deal now, but as a kid it made me feel like I wasn’t wanted. I didn’t feel like I belonged.
Then when I was in high school, my dad came to us and said he had settled down and we could move in with him. My grandmother told me I should give him a second chance, so my brother and I moved to a different town, two hours away, to live with our dad.
But it wasn’t good. I felt like my dad was always critical of me. He was always negative. My senior year of high school I ended up getting into a big fight with him and so I left.
As I became an adult, we slowly began to have a relationship again. But there was always something holding us back. I think I carried a lot of resentment and I think he carried a lot of regret.
Getting to know God is what began to heal me. I realized that someone had loved me my whole life but I didn’t know it. I can now look back and see how my Heavenly Father took care of me all these years.
Then there was a sermon preached here on reconciliation back in February. God really spoke to me through that. I realized that because God loves me unconditionally and has forgiven me of so much, I need to love others the same way. I thought, “If Jesus can sacrifice himself for me, then I can sacrifice my anger for my dad.”
I also realized the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. That you can forgive a person – but unless you tell the person that you forgive them then there isn’t true reconciliation. At this point, I had forgiven my father but I had never told him that.
Well, last month I was talking on the phone with my dad. I had not planned on doing this, but as we were talking, I felt something was pushing me to tell my dad that I’ve forgiven him. It was hard for me to come out and say it, but I did. I told him, “Hey dad, I want you to know I forgive you for everything. The past is the past. I love you dad, and I wouldn’t trade you for any other dad in the world.”
Even though this was hard to do, I feel like something was lifted off my chest that day. When I finished the conversation I felt so good. And it seems to have made our relationship a lot closer. It finally feels like it’s becoming a real dad and son relationship now.
I saw the kingdom break in through that conversation with my dad. And I believe God wants to keep using me to show my parents what his love is like.