|True Stories: Daddy … Is That You?
A shadow over her wedding
With personal stories and advice firmly rooted in Scripture, this book offers hope for peace with God, peaceful relationships with others, and genuine peace within.
Becky looked forward to her wedding with a mixture of excitement and sadness. Mark was the man of her dreams, and she was thrilled about becoming his wife. But there was another man she had thought about even more than Mark, and his memory brought mostly pain.Her father, Frank, had abandoned the family when she was only five years old. Week after week she longed to see him, to feel his strong hugs and to tell him how much she wanted him to come home. But he could hardly bear the pain of such visits, so Becky had seen little of him for nearly twenty years. As time passed, her loneliness was mingled with bitterness and a fear of getting too close to others who might also abandon her one day.
Becky shared these feelings with her pastor and Mark during premarital counseling. Drawing on peacemaking principles, Pastor Hall helped her to bring to the Lord some of the things that might cast a shadow over her marriage. But he knew that there was another step that would help her to lay the past completely to rest.
Two weeks before the wedding, Pastor Hall passed through the city where Becky believed her father lived. With some trepidation, he found Frank’s name in the telephone book and called him. To his surprise, Frank agreed to meet with him for lunch.
As the two men talked, Pastor Hall realized that even though Frank was not a Christian, the Holy Spirit had been working in his heart to prepare him for their meeting. Sensing a softness in Frank’s heart, Pastor Hall said, “Wouldn’t this be an ideal time to seek reconciliation with Becky?”
Pastor Hall prayed silently as Frank wrestled with hope and fear. The Holy Spirit gave him grace, and he asked for Becky’s telephone number.
That evening Frank dialed Becky’s number with trembling hands. When she answered, he said, “Hello, Becky. This is your father.” Afraid of what she might say, he waited. After a few moments, he heard a word he had not heard for years.
“Daddy … is that you?”
The eagerness in her voice swept away his fears, and soon he was telling her how much he missed her and asking her to forgive him for what he had done. God filled her heart with a love that covered all his sins, and they were reconciled in a flood of words and tears.
As the conversation neared its end, Becky said, “Daddy, I’m getting married in two weeks! Could you come and give me away?”
“Of course!” he said. “I want very much to meet your Mark.”
After she hung up the phone, Becky suddenly realized what she had done. How would her mother, her stepfather, and her brothers and sisters react to Frank? Had she just ruined her own wedding? She poured out her heart to the Lord in thanksgiving and need.
In the following days, Mark and Pastor Hall reminded her of God’s faithfulness and pointed out that he was obviously working in the situation. Together, they prepared the rest of her family to receive Frank.
The walls come down
When the wedding day finally arrived, everyone was nervous about the unusual reunion. There were several awkward moments, but they made it through the rehearsal and wedding without incident.
All day long, God was working in Frank to give him the courage to do something he had not planned to do. During the reception, he stood up and cleared his throat. Raising his glass toward Becky’s mother, he said, “I want to propose a toast to Susan for her faith, endurance, and character, and for the wonderful job she had done in raising our children.”
He lowered his glass and looked around the room. Then he continued, “I also want to ask forgiveness for all of the pain I caused so many of you through my selfish actions.”
Finally he lifted his glass toward the ceiling and said, “Most of all, I want to thank God that my daughter is marrying a Christian and that her pastor loved her enough to reach out to me.”
There was not a dry eye in the room as Becky ran into her father’s arms, thanking him for the best wedding gift he could have ever given her. Other family members went to him as well, expressing their forgiveness and pushing aside the walls that had divided their family for twenty years.
The most important reconciliation took place a month later, when Pastor Hall called Frank to ask how he was doing. God had continued to work in Frank’s heart, and he wanted to hear more about the Person who had restored him to his family. After hearing a brief explanation of the gospel, Frank eagerly confessed his sin and put his faith in Jesus Christ.
When Becky heard the news, she knew that the reconciliation process was complete. By God’s grace, she and her father would never be separated again.
What about you? Is there someone with whom you need to be reconciled? Whether you go and ask for forgiveness or offer forgiveness, your example may be exactly what God wants to use to open the way for someone you know to be reconciled to him through our Lord Jesus Christ.