Finding Strength From Our Good Shepherd
My stomach knotted as I sat facing the airport exit. People crowded onto the escalator, each searching for their next gate and flight. The calm tone of my friend’s voice on my phone was the only thing that kept me from running back to my car and driving away. What did I think when I agreed to this meeting? Would we recognize one another, or would he walk right past me? Then, I saw him.
To this day, I don’t know how I knew it was him. I just did. He was a short man, had a bit of a belly, and dressed in a blue Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops like he was ready for the beach. I felt my heart pound as he made his way down the escalator. I tried not to stare, but to my amazement, he recognized me too. Without hesitation, he walked right up to me and gave me a big hug.
As we reunited after twenty-four years, I thanked God for answering the prayer I had prayed for so long: That someday, I’d be able to meet my biological father.
Our weekend together was surreal. I couldn’t believe I was in the presence of the man I always wondered about growing up. When we met, I felt like most runners do when they near the end of a marathon; relief. An unexpected reprieve crept into my heart when I realized my twenty-four-year-long race of curiosity was over. It came from finally knowing where he lived, where he worked, and that he wanted to meet me. Paired with my relief came an unexpected pain like a runner who crosses the finish line only to realize an existing hurt they had acquired and then ignored while focusing on their destination.
After meeting my dad, the pain I discovered was that he wasn’t the man I dreamt he would be.
He still struggled with substance abuse issues and didn’t understand how I could forgive him for not being present most of my life. Forgiveness can be complicated when the person on the receiving end can’t seem to accept it. As our weekend ended, I resolved to accept the long-awaited relief and take time to work through the pain, just as any runner would do after a long race.
Ten years after our reunion, he died. He was found alone in a hotel room with a large amount of cocaine he never delivered. In the days that followed, I experienced a new level of heartbreak I had never known. But, after losing my biological father, a deep desire to connect with my heavenly Father was born, as well as the strength I needed to get through the unexpected trial.
Losing my biological father marked the beginning of my journey in learning how to connect with God as my Heavenly Father.
I spent a significant amount of time reading the Bible, praying, and listening to worship music during my early days of grief because those practices proved to be a lifeline for me. My doctor also recommended seeing a counselor and taking anti-depressants while I worked through my pain, so that’s something I did as well. You see, at the time this all happened, I was caring for my six-year-old, three-year-old, and two-year-old children while my husband traveled for work. I was also battling postpartum depression and a newly diagnosed thyroid disorder.
I am undoubtedly a stronger person after the tragedy than I was walking into it because of the way God cared for me. I will never forget the verse that continually came to mind throughout my healing process. Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
When I felt sad, overwhelmed, and distraught, I would picture Jesus gathering me into His arms, carrying me close to His heart, and gently leading me while I cared for myself and my family.
When we find ourselves in the heartbreaking situations life inevitably brings, we can find strength by relying on God’s goodness, wisdom, and Fatherly love. He takes an active interest in our needs, just like a father who profoundly cares for his child, so we can trust Him with whatever happens because He sees and understands the whole picture.
Brandie Muncaster is the author of a children’s book called Garden Tales: A Seed’s Story. She writes devotions for VineWords: Devotions and More, Christian Devotions and the Kingdom Winds Collective. Brandie’s passion for writing is fueled by her desire to help people discover what it means to live and walk in their true identity. She and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. They reside in the Charlotte, N.C. area. You can connect with Brandie at www.brandiejmuncaster.com
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