I think of the verse in Joel 2: "I will restore the years the locusts have eaten, declares the Lord". Yes, he has done that.
My father attended church religiously, serving as a deacon, Sunday School teacher and even an elder. He was a religious man who wanted to do what he was supposed to, yet he didn't know God. There was no connection with the heart of the Father. For you see he was a broken man.
There were many ups and downs in our lives. When you don't know the heart of the God, you don't really know love. Therefore receiving and expressing love becomes difficult. My dad, in his broken state, offered what he had to give.
But God knew Him. He pursued him through a fellowship of people. They sit behind us here in the church. There were 8 people who saw my dad, not as a damaged man, but one who needed to be loved. They loved him well. It was in this "acceptability group" that my father first found God. It was somewhere in the mid-1990's, I can't remember the exact year now.
I will never forget the day he was baptized. My oldest daughter was baptized with him. I wept like a baby as I heard him testify of this great love he had finally discovered. It had been the prayer of my heart.
Dad began to live from his heart. God began the process in me to restore the years the locust have eaten. I wanted to know His truth above anything that I had felt or perceived.
A few years ago my husband and I were in a difficult season. He was working too many hours for too little pay. Life was just exhausting. One desperate day as I journaled my heart, I heard God say, "Call your daddy". As soon as daddy answered the phone I began to weep. I so desperately wanted him there in the room with me, hugging me tight. "Daddy will you pray for me?" I'll never forget the tenderness in his voice as he spoke and prayed. Peace permeated my being as Daddy cried out on my behalf. It wasn't just another moment of restoration, it was a time of revelation. God was using my dad to show me Him. I heard the love, hurt, tenderness in my Daddy that God wanted me to know about him.
You've heard the grandchildren talk of how he would say to them, "you're my favorite, but don't tell anyone else." I can still see the smile on his face and the twinkle in his eyes as he would tell each one. It was so true. Each one was his favorite. It's another great picture of God that Daddy displayed. I can see God looking at each one of us with that same look of delight saying, "You're my favorite, but don't tell anyone else".
Moments of healing and love are scattered throughout the last 15 + years. God has been restoring my broken pictures. I know in the depths of my soul that I am my daddy's girl.
There is something sacred about watching a child of God take their last breath. I will savor the moment of watching Daddy enter into heaven. As I sat there holding his hand, weeping for my loss, I knew. I was deeply and tenderly loved. That will be my memory.