How Long Is Your Shadow?

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

1 John 3:1

 Father’s Day meals and cards have passed but the reality of our Father’s love will never stop.

Father’s Day has a hidden, special place in my heart. My daughters are splendid adults, wonderfully married, followers of Christ, and terrific mothers.  No doubt it is so because of the superb love of their mother and the grace of God. Even then, they have beaten the odds since I came from a dysfunctional family and never knew my biological father. We know all too well what can happen.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day had entirely different results in the prison where I was chaplain. For Mother’s Day we had an observance and gave 2-3 greeting cards to each inmate. They would literally line up outside the door and around the building to receive them. While many did not have a healthy relationship with their mother, they still wanted cards to send to them and their grandmothers—who often raised them.

There was little interest in Father’s Day cards. No lines. No bartering for additional cards. Most inmates had unhealthy or non-existent relationships with their biological fathers. Once, I recall having to tell an inmate that his father died. He just laughed.

Sometimes, men and women struggle with God as Father because of their earthly father’s absence, neglect, or abuse. An inmate told me love was complicated to him because when his parents told him they loved him they then would beat him. Followers of Jesus, “see what kind of love the Father has given to us.” He actually loves us so much He gave His only—let that sink in—only Son for us. There is never a second He is not on your side. Please don’t let your pain or past destroy the Scripture’s invitation to be loved by the Father.

We had a video at our church for Father’s Day that ended with a question: How long is your shadow? Perhaps my prayer is yours:

Father, I am so grateful for the father-like men You sent who: led me to the Savior, gave me my first bike, taught me the Bible, patiently showed me how to drive a stick shift, portrayed godly marriages before me, included me, implanted a love for the church Christ died for, called in a nick of time…or chastened me when I needed it. Their shadow is long.

And then, Father, You gave the queen of the earth to love me, and entrusted marvelous children in our care, grandchildren to love and be loved by, and others to disciple, encourage, and serve. May my shadow be long for them.

Having a relationship with the Father of heaven makes all the difference in this unsettling world. How glad I am the Father is casting a long, loving, protective, guiding shadow when I walk with Him.


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