We heard a sermon on fathers at church this Sunday and I had a nice surprise. My own dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye as I was growing up. We used to argue about most things including the way I ate my peas and the length of my hair. So, perhaps it won’t surprise you to learn that my conversion to Christianity was something of a teenage rebellion. I remember defiantly reading my dad Ephesians 6:4 and telling him to stop exasperating his children. It wasn’t well received. I even preached a sermon at my brother’s baptism where I rather shamefully declared in the presence of my dad that, in contrast to my heavenly father, my human father was something of a disappointment.
On Sunday the preacher recounted the parable of the Prodigal Son and likened God to the father who watched for his son at the window until he saw him in the distance and then hitched up his robes, abandoning any sense of decorum, and ran to his son and threw his arms around him, embraced him, kissed him and welcomed him home. At that moment God took me by surprise. He gently pointed out something I had never realised before. For me, this wasn’t just a story, it had actually happened!
One of the things my dad and I argued about when I was a teenager was my taste in music. I was into Metal long before Grunge ruined it. I was particularly fond of Glam Rock and somehow managed to persuade my parents to let me go to see bands like Faster Pussycat, Tiger Tails and Little Angels. I even had a pair of pointed black suede and snakeskin winklepicker boots with chrome buckles and one inch heals.
One night, after a gig, my friend and I decided to walk home. I was wearing the winklepickers, so it took us a long time. As we approached the house together at about 1am I noticed a chink of light in the window as the curtain was pulled back. My dad ran out of the house in his socks despite the wet ground, he despatched my friend with a word, wrapped his arms around me and walked me into the house. There was no row, no sharp words, just loving relief that his prodigal son had come home. Before I met him for myself, that was the closest thing I felt to the love of God, yet somehow I had simply stored the memory away and failed to make the connection. So, even though this is a little late in the day, its still worth saying; thanks dad.