I have read that some people get their understanding about God from their father—if one’s father is distant, then they see God as being distant. Since my parents separated when I was 7 years old and I hardly saw my father before then, I did not really have a father so I did not really have an impression of God. If anything, it was that God was not there.
One day I met a guy; we fell in love and wanted to get married. Since I did not really have a family we decided to get married at the courthouse, but his parents insisted that we get married at their church. So I flew from California to Florida to get married. I remember meeting my future mother-in-law—she came out to greet us. I also remember meeting my future father-in-law too. He had a big smile on his face and he gave me a big bear hug. My new impression of God started on that day.
I remember the whole week before my wedding, it rained every day. Saturday morning the sun came out and my future father-in-law said, “Teresa, the sun came out just for your wedding.” He was so happy. As we were all getting ready to go to the church, my future father-in-law offered to give me away since no one from my family was there. It was such a sweet gesture, but I told him that I would be fine. After the wedding my mother-in-law said that I could call them by their first names or I could call them “Mom” and “Dad.” I told her I wanted to call them “Mom” and “Dad.” So on that day I was adopted into the family and had a new set of parents, but most of all I had a father.
I enjoyed hearing my father-in-law’s stories. He loved telling them and I loved listening to them. He seemed to go out of his way to include me and I always felt like I was part of the family. I remember getting cooking lessons from him—he showed me how to make sauce and how to roast red peppers. I tried to show him how to make Lumpia, but he was only interested in eating them. =)
I think he knew that I needed a father and he treated me as a daughter. I remember so many things about my father-in-law. I remember when we watched him preach—there were only a handful of people in the congregation, but it didn’t matter to him—he preached as if he was speaking to a thousand people. I remember when he prayed over my husband as he was getting ordained. I cried because it was a special honor for us. I remember how he held each of my children, and how he loved them.
I remember when he said good-bye to me last year. He gave me the ultimate blessing when he said that I was a good wife and a good mother. He said that he was proud of us. It meant a lot to hear those words. I will miss him. I will miss his encouragement. I wish I could turn back time and spend more time with him—listening to his stories and enjoying meals with him, but I will have to wait until I see him again in glory. Today I am not only mourning the death of my father-in-law, but I am also mourning the death of my adopted father. I love you, Dad! Because of you, I see God as a loving God—a God who reached out to me—me, a worthless sinner— and allowed me to be called a child of God (John 1:12). Because of your acceptance of me, I see God as accepting of me—He grafted me into His family (Romans 11:17). Because of your testimony and example, I am prepared to accept whatever God lays before me; and I hope I will be as faithful as you. Thank you for helping me to see God as He truly is!