I needed a father who would always be around
I needed a father who would always be around

My Father’s house

When I was a child, I enjoyed spending time with my father. Particularly, I enjoyed sleeping with him at night. I felt confident about his protection, especially when our village was nestled among the tall trees surrounded by a thick forest.

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In this forest village, wolves and leopards howled close by at night and owls sent frightening calls to each other — whistles, barks, shrieks, hisses and bizarre cries.

Terrified

While these nocturnal creatures were having their animal fun at night, I, with my young mind in a tender fearsome body, was the recipient of their weird behaviour. So scared was I that I would stretch out my hand and touch my father, just to be sure he was there.  

One night in our home in the north, I woke up feeling dehydrated due to the unbearable heat associated with this Sahel region. My father was asleep, but I woke him up. “My father,” I shook him, “Please, I’m thirsty!”  From a clay jug, he poured me fresh water that immediately quenched my thirst.

As a boy in my father’s house, I was always sorted out whenever the family was in need. Even in the midst of food shortages, my father always knew how to provide our daily bread.

Human and weak

When I grew up and realised that my father was only human and that he had his shortcomings, I longed for another father. When I left home in pursuit of education, a job, and other interests, my need for a more permanent father-figure became obvious.

It was obvious because of how vulnerable I felt; how fear often plagued my mind, and how I couldn’t easily reach out to the father I had known since childhood.  Learning to be on my own as a young boy was terribly daunting.  

Therefore, I felt that I needed another father-figure. In those early days, I had no clue what omnipresent was in divine parlance, but I felt that the father I needed must be one who would always be around — not an absentee father.

The Lord’s Prayer

Unexpectedly, I found such a father-figure in a short prayer our teacher taught us way back in the primary school. We learnt “the Lord’s Prayer” in primary school when the teacher said, “Pray like this: Our Father, who art in heaven . . .”  

In primary school, I was still enjoying the comfort assurance under my father’s protection, so I did not yet understand reference to God as “Our Father”.  Moreover, I couldn’t conceptualise the idea that God had a house. I didn’t even know God, let alone think of him as a Father who had a house.

But out there on my own when I began to feel the reality of loneliness – because I missed my father and his household — the desire for something more real and permanent troubled my innermost being.  

Today, I understand that it must have been God gradually drawing me away from an earthly father to himself as the heavenly Father.

By that time, the short prayer our teacher taught us in primary school was being repeated almost every day at school assembly and during church services.  

The leader would say, “Now the Lord’s Prayer,” and we would begin to recite it.  Apparently, the prayer was “The Lord’s Prayer,” not a teacher’s prayer, although it was the teacher who taught us to pray it.

Gratitude

I’m grateful to the teacher’s exposition that showed that we have a Father in heaven who is omnipresent as well as omnipotent, able to provide for us and protect us.

What I failed to understand while taking shelter in my father’s presence and in his house was that he was neither omnipresent nor omnipotent.  

If those nocturnal creatures were to invade our father’s house at night, it would have been clear that only divine presence could protect us.

As a child with my father, fear was kept at bay and protection assured, so I felt at ease.  But that was a child’s limited worldview.  

Now as an adult and in God I trust, I know better: “God is our refuge and strength, the ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Not an orphan

That is why those who say they don’t know who their fathers are, or that their fathers did not look after them, should take heart: God is our Father, and in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).   

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If our father and mother forsake us, our heavenly Father will never forsake us (Psalm 27:10). He is able to keep us from stumbling and present us before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy (Jude 24).

If you have God as your Father, you’re not an orphan and you should not feel lonely, for this Father will never disappoint us.

The writer is a publisher, author, writer-trainer and CEO of Step Publishers.
E-mail: [email protected]

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