The Love of the Father
Joshua Miller, Executive Pastor
My Dad passed away in a car accident just four days after my fourth birthday. I only have two personal memories of him. The first is of him carrying me in my "super friends" sheet on our way into Church after I had injured my leg due to falling out of the bunk bed, or more accurately after my brother pulled me off the bunk bed while playing with some rope.
The second is of seeing my Dad with his head on the steering wheel. My family was in the car when he died. I was sitting in the front seat on my mothers lap when we were hit by a drunk driver. This is probably one of the most bitter and sweet moments of my life--both loss and connection in this moment. It is the moment that separated me from my Dad, but also the last moments of his life that I remember and it makes that moment sad and special.
I always wanted to be a Dad because I wanted to give to someone what I had not had the privilege of experiencing. I thought somehow this would help bring some healing in my own brokenness. Then something happened when I was about 23 years old that I can never forget.
On January 3, 2011, I had a dream that I saw my Dad in a casket but I also saw him dancing inside this church. I thought, "What!?, how is this possible!? How can he be in both places!?" I then heard a voice say to me, "You have not mourned your Father!" and then I woke up.
Three days later, I had another dream. It was similar to the other one, but this time I was sitting on a bench in a park. You know, the ones you see in the movies, like in Forrest Gump. As I sat on this bench, I looked over and I saw a hearse and a casket that I knew was my Dad's. I looked up and I saw my Dad dancing, singing and happy as he was in the Church. I was confused by what I was seeing, then I heard a voice say, "Joshua, you have not mourned your Father!" I thought, "Yes, I have."
I heard it again, this time it was a bit louder and said, "Joshua, You HAVE NOT mourned your Father!" I thought again, "Of course I have, my dad died 20 years ago; I am over it; I am fine." I heard this voice a third time, but this time it felt like the voice was surrounding and vibrating my entire body… "JOSHUA, YOU HAVE NOT MOURNED YOUR FATHER!" At that moment, I knew God was speaking to me. I woke up and I was in a pool of tears and for close to three months I cried everyday as I mourned my Dad's death.
As I prayed and cried I asked God why He would allow this to happen!? I was angry, broken, bitter, and grieved. I was overtaken with emotion.
I cannot say that I got a definitive answer to those questions, but what I did get was a real experience and a definitive answer to how God feels about me. In those moments, God was the shoulder that I was leaning on, the one I ran to, the one who heard me and comforted me. Not long after this, I ended up meeting my wife, Alicia. We got married a year later, then we had our first child, Florence, then our second, Lenora and then our last, Eloise.
I am confident that the Lord knew that I would meet my wife that year. I am also convinced that He knew that until I was able to break through the darkness of this pain that was in my heart, I would not be able to give my wife and children the best of me.
Before I went through these months of mourning, I had two major issues that I didn't know were issues. The first was that I could not cry at funerals or "feel" much when people told me of tragic things in their lives. I wasn't robotic, but I lacked empathy. The second was that I had always seen God as militant. I thought He was waiting for me to do wrong so I could be punished. My relationship with God was more like a soldier obeying his General instead of a son being loved by his Father.
God showed me in this moment the truth of His heart for me. Of course, he wants me to keep his commands; of course he wants me to be obedient; of course he wants me to be a disciple of Jesus, but He also loves me; He is also full of grace, compassion, mercy, and gentleness.
The Love of a Father goes beyond discipline and expectation, but fully includes empathy, tenderness, and humility. The best example of a Father I have personally experienced has been through the love and correction of men in my life who have steered me in the right direction. It has also been the experience of the Love of God, our Father; the compassion of Jesus, our brother; and the direction of the Spirit, our helper.
I pray that this Father's Day, if your Father is not with you, that you would find sonship/daughtership in the men who have invested time, correction, energy, compassion, and gentleness in your life and that you would find true sonship/daughtership in the graceful love of God.
There are four men in my life that I specifically feel this affection for. I would not be who I am today without their belief in me, love, correction, and support. I honor you this Father's Day!
- Jesse Miller, my Uncle/my dad’s identical twin brother (wild, I know)
- John Morgan, my former Youth Pastor who I interned under.
- Mohammed Bolton, my High School Youth Pastor
- Johnny Lee Miller Jr., my big brother
Happy Father's Day!
Thank you Joshua for tour our hearts with yours. Pray you our so very blessed this Fathers Day and every day
Thanks bro , sorry I just saw this post . I feel I really owe you the honor , if it wasn"t for your obedience to serve God I know I would be dead or in jail . Never forget you told me if i don"t change my lifestyle that the enemy was going to take me out and he tried so many times but the prayers of the righteous availeth much . I thank God for you and your leadership from then and now . You are a great father and I pray that your joy will continue to be full in Christ. Love you . And you deserve a Happy Father's Day in October .Love .