When I was nine or ten years old, I built a fort out of tree limbs and debris. I leaned them up against the front of our house like some sort of natural shelter. I thought it was awesome. My dad, on the other hand, did not. It was an eye sore for the neighborhood, not something a home-owner wants to be known for.
He made me take it down, just as quick as it went up. In that moment he simple told me, “No, you can’t put this here.” But his “no” wasn’t forever. It also came with a promise.
HE ALSO TOLD ME, “YES, I WILL HELP YOU BUILD A REAL FORT.”
In my brain, that meant that day. But again, he said, “No, not now.” He was much too busy and I totally understand that. His office was at home and I was constantly trying to disrupt his workflow. He had tight deadlines and no guarantee of income. He had to work hard to keep the business and our family afloat. He continually, and gently, pushed me out of his office while he worked. Something I do now, everyday, with my own kids.
So his “no” was temporary. He would help me. But it would have to be on his time table.
Weeks went by, maybe even months and I continually asked him, “Can we build the fort today? Can we? Can we? Can we?” And eventually, after many attempts to get this project started, I almost gave up hope.
I needed someone to intercede on my behalf. Someone who also had the ear of my dad, someone who had a relationship with him that was all their own and could plead my case on my behalf.
I needed mom.
My mom marched into that office, after noticing my defeated plea, time and time again, she said, “You promised and you need to follow through.” And in that moment, the plan was birthed. My dad said, “Okay, this Saturday we’re going to start working on it.” I was thrilled. This was going to be fun.
Early that Saturday morning, we went to get the supplies: wood, nails, shingles, windows, hinges, siding, electrical boxes… this wasn’t what I was expecting. This was shaping up to be something far better!
We worked all day, several days, and by the end I had a majestic fort. It was beautiful. I don’t know the exact dimensions, but I think it was probably in the neighborhood of 100 sq ft, complete with electricity, bunkbeds and trap-door for entry. Basically a tiny house on stilts.
This was epic.
- If he hadn’t squashed my little fort dream…
- If he hadn’t promised me a new one…
- If I hadn’t persisted in that promise, continually asking for fulfillment…
- If my mom hadn’t interceded on my behalf…
- And if he wasn’t a man of his word…
…I WOULD OF BEEN STUCK WITH THAT LITTLE JUNKY FORT.
But that little junky fort was the prelude to something amazing.
YOUR EARLY UNDERSTANDING OF GOD IS TYPICALLY SHAPED BY THE BEHAVIOR OF YOUR FATHER.
If you had an absent father, a missing father, or a work-a-holic father… you tend to view God in the same light. And the same things can be true of your mother, but for whatever reason, dads tend to have a bigger impact on your impression of God than moms.
I AM GRATEFUL THAT MY DAD SHOWED ME THAT A FATHER CAN BE TRUSTED.
But at some point,every father, no matter how great, fails. They are not perfect. They say the wrong thing. Their busyness or frustration bubbles up into words that cut like a knife and can’t be unsaid. So, as we mature, we must realize, whatever good our fathers showed us was from God and whatever deficit they created in our hearts was not because of God, but prideful-sinful-human nature.
God can be trusted, no matter what.
If you have a father-wound, as we all do to some degree, I want to challenge you to let that go, to forgive. If you have been struggling with the idea of a perfect-heavenly father because of your experience with your earthly father… choose to trust. He can be trusted.
HE MAY BE SAYING “NO” TO YOUR JUNKY-FORT-DREAMS NOW, BUT HE’S GOT SOMETHING FAR BETTER IN MIND.
- Be patient.
- Keep asking.
- Don’t lose hope.
- Get someone else to intercede in prayer for you.
And believe this promise:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 NIV