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  • Johnny Markin

The Aching Heart of a Separated Father

I have a great relationship with my daughter. Some of my best memories are when we would just hang out, chatting and enjoying each other’s company over a great donut!

Allow me a momentary pity party.

As the father of two grown kids who have left the nest, I never experience the “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome. We are blessed to have the company of our son and his wife nearby, and make up for the 4 years that he was away at university in Chicago. Our daughter, on the other hand, also went away to the U.S.A. for university, but unlike her brother, she never moved back home.

I have a great relationship with my daughter. Some of my best memories are when we would just hang out, chatting and enjoying each other’s company over a great donut! Those are only some of the precious times we have spent together.

Along the way, she fell in love with a wonderful American lad she met at school there. Now married and living far away, the isolation of the COVID pandemic has truly forced me to face the fact that with the border shut, I may not be able to see my daughter in person for an extended period of time. We text often, video chat almost daily, but we are all discovering that cyber-community is a pale version of real presence. And I know there are so many of us who experience that longing daily!

So here I am, living with the aching heart of an isolated father who misses their child, pining and whining about my inability to cross the barrier to rectify the situation. And then, the penny dropped.

I suddenly had a tiny insight into our Heavenly Father’s heart for his children. An aching and a longing to be with them so much that he gave the ultimate sacrifice to open the way to enjoy his company. God overcame the great distance between us by sending Christ to be our atonement and “opened the life gate that all may go in.”

You see, THAT is what worship is. At its centre, it is a relationship rooted in the perfect relationship of the Triune God, and in his ability to overcome the great divide of his holiness and our sinfulness. Consider Psalm 100 and its call to worship.

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (NIV)

Ps 100 is effectively the offering of his presence. The language is of a great King who invites us into his royal court. It is a privilege not usually afforded common folk, but here is the Creator, the Holy One declaring that we may come into his presence, in order that we might sit and chat together with him and be affirmed as part of the heavenly royal family.

God desires OUR company. He desires us one on one, but also as a family. Parents and grandparents love having all of their progeny together. Many families have a weekly meal together, just to catch up. If you peek in on these, I’m sure you’ll see them just staring around the room at times, marvelling at the wonderful expression of love in their midst. And that is a picture of what we get when we gather to worship in God’s presence. A heavenly Father simply revelling in his children’s company.

One day soon I’m praying I’ll be able to finally be together with my daughter again. What a day! But more than that, one day we will be able to run into the actual presence of our life-giving Saviour and experience face to face the incomprehensible love of our Redeemer! Until then, he invites us to a Zoom call every week that is called “weekly worship.” And there we can sing the song of redemption, like the old hymn that declares,

“Praise the Lord, praise the Lord; Let the earth hear his voice. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice! Oh, come to the Father Through Jesus, the Son And give him the glory GREAT THINGS HE HATH DONE!”

To God Be The Glory by Fanny J. Crosby, 1875. Copyright Public Domain.


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