I was standing in line to greet my father. At that time he was a missionary in Africa and had made the special flight back to Canada to attend a family funeral. His return visit had been anticipated by his extended family, so when he entered the church his siblings and friends quickly surrounded him and formed a line in which to greet him. My sisters and I were not as quick-footed as the entourage and as a result we were left to wait our turn near the end of the procession that weaved its way through the empty pews. I stood in line for my father’s attention.
As one of six children, I spent many hours in line. We had one washroom, and I waited in line for the bathroom. I also waited in line for the good night kiss, for spankings, and occasionally I had to wait in line for a word of praise or recognition. My father is an industrious man and although he was busy throughout my childhood, he was never too occupied to give love and attention; I just had to wait in line for it sometimes. He was a great dad, but he was only one man, and often everyone wanted a piece of him.
I grew up in a family surrounded by love, yet squeezed in amongst 5 sisters that could rival anyone for attention based on beauty, personality, and intelligence; there was an element of the survival of the fittest. Competition could be fierce as we all contended for our father’s attention.
My father can narrate stories, has a great sense of humor, and he can debate a formidable point in any argument. He usually has a twinkle in his eye as he speaks, which often leads to an ambiguous undertone in most conversations; it leaves one wondering if he is joking or not. And, as soon as the conversation lends itself, he will broach the topic of God. His love for God is the only thing that surpasses his love for his wife, family, and ministry. His life is an example of grace and a portrayal of God’s faithfulness.
When I was a teen, I signed up for a mission trip that took me away from home for the summer. During this time there was a postal strike and because this was the pre-email and pre-cell era, there would be very little contact until my return home a couple of months later. As part of our goodbye, I clearly remember my dad pointing me toward God. In recognizing that I would battle homesickness, he said:
“At any moment you can close your eyes and through the presence of Christ we can be right beside you”.
He went on to explain that by because I knew Christ and my parents also knew Christ we could walk side by side even though the distance between us spanned many miles. He concluded by directing me into a moment-by-moment walk with Jesus Christ.
This lesson became a life walk. Shortly after my parents entered their missionary lifework, I left home. I have lived most of my adult life without their physical presence. My father was unable to attend my wedding, and my parents missed my children’s births and have not been able to attend most baby dedications, baptisms, and graduations. We’ve missed them during these celebratory occasions but when we are together there are great times of ‘catching up’ and joy. Sometimes we just have to wait to celebrate.
That day at the funeral, I waited in line along with all the other people to greet my father. I received a hug, a moment of my father’s attention, but I realized with a heart-penetrating sear that I needed more, much more. Turning to my Heavenly Father I cried for the attention that every child desires, the recognition that arises from the very soul.
How grateful I am that my earthly father recognized and directed my needs to my Heavenly Father. There is never a line up for my Heavenly Father; there is no waiting for his attention. God is omnipresent and omniscient. He sees every tear that falls and he understands everything, even the sort of pain that tears can’t express. He witnesses every victory and recognizes the times of elation that no one else can notice. He celebrates every occasion and sustains through every tragedy. He knows me intimately and he understands instantly.
My heavenly Father know me thoroughly, he searches my thoughts and intentions. He knows what I need, what I dream for and what I fear. I am never alone and my Heavenly Father witnesses my life giving guidance and provision for each day.
With my heavenly Father there is no waiting in line.
Originally published Standing In Line here. Published with permission.