“It’s my father’s fault that my mother died when I was twelve years old,” Mrs. Wang said bitterly, wiping away a stream of tears. It was late one night in the second city of our East Asia trip, and Mrs. Wang was sharing with some of the Fresh Start team her heart-wrenching story of a childhood with a distant, abusive father.
“He beat my mother. He beat my brothers and me. He didn’t provide for the family. He didn’t love us. My mother had a bitter life, raising eight children, and my father didn’t help her. That’s why she got sick and died!” The pain was clearly very deep.
“Was your father wrong?” asked Pastor Steve gently. Pausing to reflect, Mrs. Wang answered slowly, “Not really. He couldn’t help it. He grew up in a family that didn’t show love to him. So he didn’t know how to love.”
“What is our Heavenly Father like?” prodded Pastor Steve. “Is He loving? Is He kind? Does He provide for our needs?” Nodding, Mrs. Wang quickly replied, “Oh, yes!”
“Then, is there a gap between what our Heavenly Father is like, and what your earthly father was like? God is loving – your father was not loving. God is kind – your father was abusive. God provides for our needs – your father did not provide for your family. That’s the gap. That’s what you need to forgive.”
For more than forty years, Mrs. Wang had protected her father’s reputation, excusing his behavior and burying her pain. But when she was able to admit that her father was wrong and how his behavior hurt her, she could start the process that would lead to forgiveness.
Who’s in your gap? In our relationships with others, there’s always a gap between our perfect Heavenly Father’s character – and the actions and attitudes of imperfect human beings. Whether it’s a big gap or a small gap, there’s always a gap. Be honest with yourself and with God. Identify who or what is in the gap. Allow His Holy Spirit to help you get started on the path to freedom!
“Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” Psalm 26:2