Saturday, January 5, 2013

Where's Daddy?

"A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation."
Psalm 68:5
(KJV)


I was in Walmart...
fighting the Christmas shopping rush...
looking for supplies for our Christmas meal.

As I paused in the dairy department...
looking for cheese...
I heard a little voice behind me.

"Where's Daddy?
Nana!
Where's Daddy?"

I turned to smile at the little girl
seated in the top part of the grocery cart
right behind me.

"Nana!
Where is my Daddy?"
Her voice raised higher and became louder
with each syllable.

I looked towards the woman she referred to as Nana,
wondering why she didn't just answer the little girl
and settle her obvious fears.

She was an older lady...
probably around 65 years old.
She looked tired....
and hopeless.

I tried to connect with her.
I so wanted to give her a smile.

She barely glanced at me
and gave me a weak, forced half-smile in return.

"Daddy!
Where's Daddy, Nana?"
her little voice interrupted our exchange of smiles.

Finally, she answered.

"Shh!
If I knew, I'd tell you!"

She sounded exasperated...
frustrated....
exhausted.

She steered her cart around mine,
and walked away...
slowly...
shushing the little girl all the way.

Where was her Daddy?
Maybe he was in another part of the store.
Perhaps the grandmother was just babysitting.
From the tone of her voice,
it occurred to me that it was also possible that
"Daddy" was completely out of the picture.
Off the scene.
Out of her life.

How many children ask the same question every day?
How many grandmothers give the same despondent answer?
I don't know about you,
but it seems to me that there a lot more grandparents raising children
than there used to be.
Grandparents who are having to pick up the slack...
who are attempting unsuccessfully and at great personal cost...
to fill the shoes of those who should be raising their own children.

My heart went out to the poor soul...
as she trudged slowly away from me.

I have no doubt that she has already raised her own children.
That she is at the stage of life where she should be able to relax a little...
have someone else help her out...
instead of having to carry someone else's burden.

Something is wrong with this picture.
Where's Daddy?

It saddens me to see the family unit disintegrate.
Should our great-grandparents have the opportunity
to step back onto the scene today,
would they even recognize it?

In their day, families were close.
They were not without their fair share of problems,
but people honored their commitments.
They stuck it out.
They didn't run at the first sign of difficulty.
They were made of stouter stuff, it seemed.

More often than not, Daddies could be found...
where they were supposed to be....
doing what they were supposed to be doing.

We are losing something precious.
And it shows.
In the behavior of our children.
In the violence on our streets.
In the sad expressions of our eyes.

I hate to hear or use the term "dead-beat Dad".
To me, it sounds disrespectful...
and degrading.
Because when I think of "Dad",
I think of my own Dad....
and Zachary's Daddy.

My thoughts of Dad and Kevin define my view of the title.
When I think of the two of them,
I think of deep-seated love,
valiant honor,
 and unflinching integrity.
I think of men who put their own needs aside
to meet the needs of the ones they love.
Men who don't run when the going gets tough.
Men who are there....present....in the picture....
regardless of personal sacrifice.

Sad to say,
this description applies to very few men these days....
and "dead-beat" is far too often more applicable.

When Daddy is absent,
the void is profound.
He leaves behind very big empty shoes
that are impossible to fill
by anyone else.
Mommy tries her utmost.
Nana puts forth her tired best.
Papaw is a close, but not-close-enough substitute.
So, children suffer...
and lack...
and long for the deep security they automatically feel
when Daddy is around.

God bless the little girl I saw that day.
And God bless her weary Nana.
I have thought of them several times since then.
I can't seem to get them off my mind.
We never spoke,
never met,
never exchanged stories....
but they left an indelible impression on my me.
They painted an unforgettable picture.

There is a special place reserved in the heart of our Heavenly Father
for each and every fatherless child....
whatever their reason for being fatherless.

Exodus 22:22-25 says,
"Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;
And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword;
and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless."

A powerfully strong statement of God's feelings towards those without a father...
and the ones who inflict hurt upon them.
He doesn't take kindly to their mistreatment.
Furthermore, He commands us to rise to their defense.

"Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy."
Psalm 82:3

Sadly, many of the fatherless children of our day
are unnecessarily fatherless.
But fatherless, nonetheless.
There are too many fathers who choose not to participate.
Our responsibility could not be greater.
To love them.
To care for their needs.
To reach out each time we possibly can.

Aunt Joyce has a big heart.
Each year, she adopts a child from an elementary school
in a nearby town.
This year, it broke my heart to hear her tell of
the Christmas wish list of the little 7 year old girl she had adopted.
There was no mention of a desire for the latest toy,
the most current craze,
or some huge gift.
It simply said,
"A coloring book...
if you can afford it."

Can you imagine?

A coloring book?
I have no idea if the little girl is fatherless.
It is possible that her Daddy is present, but unemployed....
or many other circumstances are possibilities.
Whatever her situation,
it touched me deep inside that
her expectations were so low.

Aunt Joyce bought her a coloring book,
but she didn't stop there.
From the sounds of what she bought,
the little girl had to be thrilled beyond belief
when she was handed her Christmas packages.

Is there a little one in your life who does without...
due to neglect on the part of a Daddy?

James 1:27 pretty much sums up what we are to do,
"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this,
To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,
and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

Pure religion.
Pleasing God.
This is what it takes.
This is what He cares about.
These words were penned by none other
than the earthly brother of our Lord and Savior's brother, James.
He knew what was most important.
"Don't neglect the fatherless.
Don't neglect the widows.
Visit them...
right in the midst of their affliction... in their situation."

So, what does it mean to "visit" the fatherless and widows?
The original Greek word is episkeptomai,
which means "to inspect; to select; to go to see;
to relieve; to look out."
The Greek lexicographer, Thayer,
defined the word this way:
"to look upon or after,
to inspect,
to examine with the eyes,
to look upon in order to help or benefit."

Too many times, we "look"....
but it is the other way....
away from the pain,
the loneliness,
the unmet needs.
We live in denial...
that there are little ones in distress...
going to bed hungry...
not only for food...
but equally as important...
for love.

We so often choose not to get involved...
not to dirty our hands...
with the undesirability of it all.
We convince ourselves that if we overlook it,
if we pretend it isn't happening,
it will all be fixed.
Everything will turn out right.
Someone else will help.
Someone else will pick up the slack.
Someone else will do...
what we know deep in our hearts we should.

I think it is very interesting to note that the word "visit"
in James 1:27 is the same word Jesus used in the 25th chapter of Matthew.
Remember?
He was describing the Judgment Day scene....
at the end of time.
"When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him,
then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory:
and before Him shall be gathered all nations;
and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats:
And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left."

How will He be able to distinguish a sheep from a goat?
On that day of all days?
The sheep will be the ones who...
fed the hungry,
gave water to the thirsty,
took in the stranger,
clothed the naked,
and visited those who were sick and in prison.
       
To visit...
or not to visit?
To look out for...
or to look away?
To help...
or not to help?
To meet the need....
or pretend it doesn't exist?
To be categorized as a sheep....
or a goat?

We live in a broken world.
Families aren't what they used to be.
Too many little voices call out,
"Where's Daddy?",
only to be shushed by drained, fatigued grandmothers....
who feel completely unequal to the task.
They shouldn't have to bear the load...alone.

There is visiting to be done.

We are Jesus' hands and feet...
are we not?
His human ambassadors...
His vehicles of choice.
Thank God, He works through broken vessels.
And just because we haven't done everything right in the past,
doesn't mean we have to continue that course.

I don't know who you are.

You may be the fatherless child...
whatever the reason.
Maybe you are the absent father...
the one who has abandoned responsibility.
You may be the grandparent...
or other relative...
exhausted from the strain...
overwhelmed by the challenge
of trying to fill shoes that are way too big.
Perhaps, you are the single Mom...
left behind...
trying to compensate...
for what you...
and your child have lost...
when "Daddy" made the choice to walk away.

Or maybe you are a bystander, like me...
watching the pain...
hearing "Where's Daddy?"...
from a distance....
and sensing it is time...
to step in...
and do what you can....
to ease the load,
soften the blow,
meet the needs.
Visit.

Whoever we are,
I guess you could say each of us
fall into one of the above categories.

God understands.
He cares.
He is ready to forgive...
to heal...
to provide.
He sends the light.
He opens our eyes.
Sometimes through something big.....
more often than not,
through a still, small voice.
This time He spoke...
to me...
through the lips of a sad little girl seated in a shopping cart.

I think I have some "visiting" to do.

How about you?

14 comments:

  1. Hi, Cheryl. I'm always amazed at the sadness and blank looks on people's faces when I go to WalMart. I've even tried smiling at and saying 'hi' to anyone who remotely looked me in the eyes. Very few do and then they usually don't smile back or respond at all. Like you, I had a wonderful father (he passed away in 2004) and husband, who has a great relationship with our son. But my heart aches for those who don't have or never had a relationship with their fathers. I agree that we need to reach out and show them the love of God, who is truly the Father that they don't/didn't have. God has been working in my life, as well...it's so wonderful how He uses different situations to get our attention and speak to us. I shared a little about that in my recent blog post.
    Ann @ Christ in the Clouds
    http://christintheclouds.blogspot.com/2013/12/happy-holidaysreally-called-to-missions.html?showComment=1387172387153#c3708435968984477255

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here, Ann! God's peace be with you and grant you and your family a wonderful Christmas! Love, Cheryl

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  2. Thank you for your thought provoking post here at "Tell me a Story." Yes children need a dad as well as a mom. I am thankful that I had both and our children also, Your aunt is an inspiration to adopt a child and give them a christmas. Men (and women too) in the church need to look into the faces of the young and ask their name (and remember it) Children are real people and need attention from both men and women. Caution must be used in this day and age but most can be wise to show friendship in a way that pleases our Lord.

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    1. You are so right, Hazel! Thanks for stopping by here tonight. God's peace be with you, Cheryl

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  3. A thought-provoking post. And unfortunately, the story of this little girl is not an isolated one. There are so many *orphans* in the world. May we be aware of the hurting hearts around us, and may we reach out to comfort those hearts. For Jesus' sake, and with HIS words of peace and love.

    GOD BLESS.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping here, Sharon! May the dear Lord bless you and yours with a wonderful Christmas! Love, Cheryl

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  4. Thanks for this post. It breaks my heart when I think of the little ones who have to ask "Where's Daddy?" and those who have to answer their questions with, "I don't know." It also breaks my heart when I think of those who don't know our Heavenly Father, who has so much love to share with them. Thanks for sharing at Tales of a Pee Dee Mama.

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    1. Thank you so much for the link-up, Tamara, and for coming by here to leave encouragement behind. Our world is so full of sadness and a void that can only be filled by our Heavenly Father. God help us to reach the lost and hurting through the love of Jesus! May the dear Lord bless you and your family with a peace-filled Christmas season. Love, Cheryl

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  5. Yes to the visiting! Scott just returned from a weekend at the prison in central Iowa. Not only did he minister to the men there, but Scott was blessed in the process.

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    1. That is the way it always works! It is always more blessed to give than to receive. Giving of our self, our time, our energy...is the greatest and most Christ-like giving of all! Thanks for stopping by, and have a merry CHRISTmas!

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  6. I am blessed to be married to a man who is not only Daddy to the children he fathered himself, but we've also adopted 3 children who were truly fatherless.

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    1. Yes, you are blessed indeed! So thankful God has given both of us very special and rare husbands! May you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

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  7. Thank you for this thought-provoking post. My children and I are looking forward to spreading Christ's joy this December.

    Blessings, Leslie

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    1. Yes, spreading His joy is what we all should be doing! There is such an anti-God push in our world right now...it is very dark. Shining HIS light into the darkness is our commission. :) Thankful for your visit, Leslie. Merry CHRISTmas!!!!

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