A Father to the Fatherless

I've been so blessed with an incredible earthly father who loves me in such an intentional, Christ-like manner.  I've also been blessed by a step-father who embraced me as his own from the start.  And then there is my wonderful pseudo-dad (I'm talking to you, Tim), who welcomed me into his family during a season when mine was…err…morphing.*

All of these men deserve to be celebrated today and I intended to post a blog doing just that.

But then my heart turned a corner and I was prompted to open an old file in my computer and look up this photo:
Fernando was the oldest child at Hogar de Esperanza during the brief time I served as a volunteer.  He was not without his challenges, having experienced far more trauma and abandonment in his lifetime than anyone ever should.  I won't pretend this young man was a model child (any fellow volunteers who read this are likely laughing right now), but I do want to take a moment and honor him - and all the thousands of others like him - who fill their own heart-voids and those of others by growing up too fast and taking on a role that never should have been left empty.

To my knowledge, Fernando does not have a father.  I have no clue how long he had been at the orphanage when I arrived, and even more concerning, I have no clue where he is now - two years after I left.

But here's what I do know: the moment captured above (despite his obviously irritated face at having his picture taken) is one of sheer tenderness.  Here we have one fatherless young man patiently fixing the tie for another fatherless young man, the latter of whom has severe special needs and could not complete this task on his own.

It's such a simple act of service, but to me it reflects a kind of love and nurturing neither child may have given or received without the other.

I just can't imagine the heartache of being fatherless.  As the beginning of this blog indicates: where others are lacking, for some reason I have been blessed in abundance.  It's not fair, I'm not deserving, and I don't understand it.

But still, I thank God that He is the "Father to the Fatherless."  That He adopts us - all of us - into His family when we choose Him.  And I thank Him for all the kind, generous, loving men who selflessly do their part to fill in those gaps of our broken world; raising and nurturing and investing in children who are not their own.

To all the "fathers" out there, whether that be through blood, marriage, friendship, or even paycheck: THANK YOU for loving the children you love.

And to all those who feel fatherless today: know that you are deeply loved and chosen by a God who longs to flood the empty spaces of your chart with His eternal, unconditional, redeeming love.

Confused?  Let's chat about it.

*not to mention my grandfathers, brothers in law, and the many other fantastic father-figures who have poured into my life.