Sunday, June 20, 2010

How a Dad Loves a Prodigal

Seven years ago on Father’s Day I had a very different relationship with my dad. In fact, I wasn’t even speaking to him. You see, I liked sin and liked living in sin. Talking to my dad (and mom) meant conviction, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

For nearly two years I ran from my parents, family, and the Lord. And then one December everything changed.

Earlier this week Focus on the Family was asking people to send in their favorite memory of their dad. It got me thinking about my favorite memory. I’m sure I could list a hundred memories of my growing up years, or even from my years post conversion. But the memory that immediately came to mind when I heard the advertisement is one I don’t think about often, but is perhaps one of the most formative events in my entire Christian life.

The entire time I was away from my family my parents prayed for me every day. So when I told them I wanted to move home and was tired of my life of sin, they were overjoyed. Immediately they began helping me prepare for the move. They arranged flights for me to come home, paid for a moving truck, and began helping me think through where to finish college.

And then I got mono.

I suddenly found myself uninsured and in the emergency room. At this point I was too sick to do anything besides barely plug along to finish my school semester. There was no way I was going to be able to pack up and get myself to Dallas to the airport. My dad had already intended to come help me move home by picking up my car and driving it to Michigan. At this point, I needed him. I had no energy, no real friends, and no ability to think through a move. I was helpless.

Things never turn out like they are supposed to. My dad flew to Dallas and picked up a car from a friend to drive down to where I was living. Less than an hour outside of the city the car he was driving broke down. That didn’t stop him from getting to me. I will never forget the words he said to me as he sat in the Greyhound station waiting on his bus to San Marcos.

“I will get to you, Court. If I have to walk there, I will get to you.”

When I picked him up at the Greyhound station he embraced me with tears streaming down his face. It was exactly what I needed. The softening of my heart had begun with the mono and continued with the love and care of a dad who didn’t hold my past hatred of him against me. For my dad it was a rescue mission. I needed help physically and spiritually.

For over a week my dad stayed with me packing up all my boxes (asking me why I had 15 sweaters even though I lived in Texas!), getting reacquainted with me, and showing me what it means to live like Christ. It humbled me on so many levels. For two years I had spurned his and my mom’s love, care, and fellowship. And here he was forgiving all of it and welcoming me back in.

There are so many more pieces to this story, like the fact that my dad stayed in the dorms with me to make sure I was eating and getting rest. Or the fact that he went to the cafeteria with me everyday to watch me fix my plate and have me go get more food if it wasn’t sufficient in nutritional value. Or the fact that my parents paid all of my medical bills despite the fact that I was the one who abandoned them. This is what makes it all memorable. They didn’t abandon me.

Ever.

You don’t always appreciate and understand your parents when you are younger. At 27 I see my dad (and mom) as instruments used by God to help me understand the Gospel. God is relentless in his pursuit of us. So were my parents.

Father’s Day 7 (and 8) years ago might not have included my well-wishes, Dad. But I am here now, praising God for a dad like you, who did not stop pursuing me until you brought me safely home. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

9 comments:

Donna Ascol said...

Wonderful, God-exalting tribute to your daddy, Courtney. May your life continue to be a testimony of that relentless love passed down to you from your Heavenly Father through the instrument of your earthly father. Your parents (and the sibs I know) are some of my favorite people and I count it a blessing to serve alongside them at Grace. God bless!

cdt said...

Thanks, Mrs. Ascol!! We love your family too! I only wish Daniel and I could see you all more often!

Becca said...

Awwww you left me crying Courtney! Ditto my mom. Love your fam so much =)
Thanks for the posts- keep on blogging for His glory!!!

cdt said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Becca! And thanks for reading! :)

We love you too! :)

Tom said...

What a great story! God's grace in your family is such an encouragement to many, many people. I am grateful for your dad's friendship and fellowship in the gospel. He is a great guy!

cdt said...

Thanks, Tom! He is thankful for you too!

Joan Regnier said...

Thank you Courtney for sharing this God glorifying story with us. God continues to use your Dad and Mom as they humbly share their lives before us at Grace. Their realness in their failures, shows forth the greatness of God's unfailing grace. And this is yet another story of His power through fallen creatures as us parents!!! Your Dad shares his failures so readily to us, but as God humbles Him He is also bringing Himself much glory through his children's stories. May God continue to use your family for His glory and the encouragement of the body of Christ. Blessings, Joanie Regnier

Rick said...

Court: You had mom and I crying and hugging, too. We were so faithless and He is so faithful. God's mercy in your life, Court, gives tremendous hope to the many parents who have wayward children! Are you really 27? Where has the time gone? I love you, thanks for the kind words!

cdt said...

Thanks, Mrs. Regnier!