It was another perfect, summer afternoon in Long Island, NY. The days always seemed to blend together around that time of year - most of them spent outside with some of my closest friends.
I'll never forget one specific day spent with my best friend of 14 years, Bryan. Bryan's mom had dropped him off early in the morning so we could hang out for the rest of the day, and our time together was always exciting. We would often play catch, ride bikes and get into all sorts of trouble. Whatever we ended up doing seemed to make the hours go by quicker than normal, and I remember frequently experiencing the nervous emotion in my stomach every time I checked the clock. I didn't like to spend time alone - especially in the summer months.
Bryan was always more into sports than I was. In fact, at that age - I wasn't really into sports at all. I played them but didn't really follow them; I was more of the musician type. Whenever other friends brought up the statuses of their favorite teams, it took everything in me to suppress the gnawing insecurity of "not-good-enough" to muster out some uneducated statement about a team I truly knew nothing about. But in the midst of our differences, Bryan and I were best friends. He never really made me feel dumb about not caring as much about sports, but the inadequacy still camped out in the forefront of my mind.
However, this day was different, and not because Bryan decided to reveal the deeply hidden wound in my heart... sometimes life just has a funny way of springing itself on you when you don't expect it.
As we were playing outside, throwing the baseball around, a car pulled up to my driveway. The driver honked the horn. I didn't realize Bryan would be leaving so soon, but as the car window slid downwards, sure enough - Bryan's Dad was calling him to get inside; it was time to go.
I looked at Bryan and said, "Dude - where are you going? You just got here?"
As he quickly and carelessly gathered his things, he yelled back at me with an excitement and anticipation, walking towards the car, "We're going to a Mets game! See you later!"
As they drove off, there I stood - baseball glove still stuck on my sweaty hand as tears beginning to swell my eyes in the middle of the driveway. I ran inside the house and rushed down the stairs to the basement. I slammed the door to my room as tears turned into sobs, sobs so intense that they began to fold me over towards the ground.
My mind raced as I tried to find the words to scream while my eyes scanned the room for the razor I was accustomed to using. I began to yell:
"Why did You choose me?
Why was I the one that got gipped?
How come Bryan gets to have a dad that will take him to baseball games and I'm stuck here without anyone?
Why can't I have a father to teach me how to be a man?"
The pain of losing of my father to cancer just a few years earlier began to hit me like a tidal wave; the rejection, the abandonment, the loneliness, the anger - they washed over me until I found myself curled up like a ball on the floor. Groan after groan, my heart felt the volcanic eruption of pain and despair until I could cry no more.
And as the tidal wave subsided, sure to come again, I mustered out these few words while I still had some breath in my lungs:
"Why do I have to be the one without a Dad..."
It was as if a response to my question was waiting for the exact moment these words would fall from my lips. The room I found myself in seemed to shift into a black square of nothingness. My head collapsed in my hands to avoid the darkness, but the feeling of the void was all around me. It was tangible.
My mind began to flash through every memory I had since I lost him. I saw the hospital room. I saw the funeral. I saw the church with his empty seat. I saw the driving lessons. I saw my school event. I saw my mother with an empty hand. I saw myself now. I saw it all.
And he was gone.
Each moment carried more pain than the previous one, and I shook my head to try and forget them. All they did was remind me of the loneliness, my lack. I hated it, I resented it. But as the pictures played in my mind, I heard a still, strong voice speak to my heart.
The voice felt so close that I could feel its warm breath upon my ear. Without grandeur, it simply whispered "look again."
As I lifted my gaze, the pictures began to flash before my eyes once more, yet, this time, it was as if I could see what had been hidden in each moment prior to this one.
There was another Man in the picture.
This Man was holding me in the hospital room.
This Man was weeping with me at the funeral.
This Man was sitting next to me in the church building.
This man was in the passenger seat.
This Man was in the crowd at my school event.
This Man was holding my mother's hand.
This Man was here with me now.
And in the middle of this moment, that Man spoke to me, on the floor of my room in this basement. With tears in His eyes just like the ones in mine, He placed both hands on my salt-stained cheeks and whispered to me,
"I've Fathered you."
About The Author:
Jared Ellis was called into ministry at the age of 16 years old, after being delivered out of a life of darkness, depression and depravity. He has traveled all over the world, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ and has worked with some of the leading churches in the nation such as Bethel Church and Elevation Church. He also pastored in Abilene, Texas and grew a youth ministry of 12 students to over 300 - signs, wonders and miracles taking place each week. Jared is the author of "Yes: Simple Response | Radical Results." He travels full-time as an Evangelist, preaching at churches, conferences and events. He is also the GE Coordinator at Christ For The Nations Institute where he teaches and trains Youth Pastors and works as a church consultant. While at home in Dallas, TX, he serves as a worship leader at Trinity Church.