A Father’s Love: Both Defender and Servant
Jun 21, 2015 03:33AM ● Published by Bonnie Lyn Smith
As I sit here waiting on news from my father after a three-month check-up, CAT scan, and blood work were performed to let us know if the beast that is cancer is keeping its nasty little talons out of his body, I watch another father patiently brushing his son’s limbs, back, and extremities. He follows it up with joint compressions and rolls the yoga ball onto our youngest son’s back.I am sandwiched in life by two fathers:
- One still on guard against a disease that has launched pathological assault weapons at his body multiple times in different places over the span of about 35 years
- One who helps with the five-times-a-day occupational therapy at home for a child with sensory integration issues, anxiety, and ADHD
My father has never backed down in the face of a nonstop onslaught on his organs, muscle, and tissue. He knows prayer (in the name of Jesus) is a powerful weapon.
My husband will never stop serving my son—not until he sees a settled, healthier version of him.
I am struck by the fact that my Father in heaven sent Jesus to do both of these things for us:
To say “no” to death and disease:
Matthew 8: 1-3, ESV, Apostle Matthew speaking of Jesus
When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed (emphasis mine).
To serve us in our very broken places:
Matthew 20:25-28, ESV, Jesus speaking to the disciples
But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (emphasis mine)."
I’ve watched my father break, burn, and weaken over several decades of my childhood and adult life. And I’ve seen prayers raise him up. I’ve been present when prayer warriors from my childhood church and community raged holy war against the plague of cancer cells on his body, and I’ve witnessed him rally, stronger than ever, facing down a very real enemy and threat to his very existence. Through prayer and a community of believers, he said “no” to cancer. He got in its face and breathed Jesus life and truth, knowing that death and destruction cower when the name of Jesus is spoken.
I realize this is not everyone’s result. I’m speaking from my own story, the one where God, for whatever reason, allowed my father to keep the battle going and gave him footing to stay one step ahead—not always fully removing the threat but holding his hand right through the battle.
Jesus healed my son from his multiple, frightening food allergies, and yet, there was another thief creeping into his life to steal peace, calm, and functioning. In his own way, my husband wages war against that destroyer, saying “no, you may not cross here!” and at the same time, he gently tends to Little Man, tangibly loving him with Jesus love—the kind that isn’t afraid to touch the diseased, the broken, the hurting, the poor, the sinner. As he rolls the yoga ball over him or brushes his arms, he is, in essence, saying: “I am meeting you in your broken place until the cracks in your jar are fired back up again smooth and functional in the kiln of God’s love—
—no matter how long it takes.”
Some folks may not have had fathers who offered them this. It may be hard to understand or grasp that our Father in heaven sent Jesus to take a stand (and win) against disease and death but also to serve us right where we are—whatever less-than-optimal condition we find ourselves in:
- Repetitive sin
- Hopelessness and despair
- Relationship crisis
- Chronic Illness
Our Father in heaven loved us so much to send Jesus to fight for us. To bend down to our level and heal us, not just of infirmity, but to also set us free from sin and eternal separation from Himself.
He sent Jesus to remind us that He sees us. Jesus didn’t just walk on by when the woman grabbed his garment. He inquired after her.
Luke 8:43-48, ESV, Luke the Physician narrating
And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.
She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.
And Jesus said, "Who was it that touched me?" When all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!"
But Jesus said, "Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me."
And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.
And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."
In that one instance, he both cancelled infirmity and served her His peace.
You see, He comes with authority to stop the assaults on us, but He also gently cradles us in our shameful, sad, or fractured places and shows us how to “Go in peace.” We simply must trust His good will toward us and grab His hand (or cloak).
Let Him put us onto His strong shoulders, tossing us joyfully into the air with His love.
He always catches. He’ll never drop you.
He will reach into your life, if you ask Him to, and I promise you, you will never be the same!
Can you trust His forever promise to you through His Son this Father’s Day?
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.