Papa

“Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15: 22-24

Nothing can compare to the extraordinary grace that comes from Papa. In many parts of the world, when speaking of our heavenly Father, the term Father is translated Papa. When I think of a ‘Papa’ I think of the warm, always loving, always accepting man full of wisdom and love. I am reminded of my grandfather Kevin Vowell, who used to let me stand behind him and mess with his hair, who let me stand beside him in the car as we rode down the street to go to the store or run an errand. (It was a different day.) I think of the man who I only knew as Grand-Daddy. All I knew of him was he was kind, warm, and accepting. More than anything I knew that he thought I hung the moon and probably would have argued that I actually did. He made me feel like I was not only special, but the most special little boy in the world. 

I’m not much of a cryer, I can literally count on one hand since I was a little boy that I actually cried, like “boohooed”. This has always been frustrating to me especially since all of the personality tests I have taken in the past year indicate something that I know to be true, I am an emotional being. Sometimes I want to cry but I can’t. I don’t know if something is wrong with my tear ducts or if there is some deep seeded psychological problem with which a psychiatrist or psychologist would have a field day. What every the reason, I don’t cry very often. Thats why the times that I do, I remember vividly. Thinking back on those times, I can almost enter a place where my senses come alive in the moment. At Grand-Daddy’s grave side service when I was eleven or twelve years old. I remember sitting there, on the second row of the tent between my sisters just sobbing. I wasn’t expecting it, but it happened. I remember my moms childhood friend Eleanor, standing behind me, putting her had on my shoulder, and then the other hand on the other shoulder, comforting me as I cried. I realized in that moment that it wasn’t that I had lost my grandfather, but it was deeper, I lost someone who “got me” and loved me just because I was Jake. I knew that no matter what I did, Grand-Daddy would always be there for me. I knew that what ever I tried, he would be my biggest fan. I knew that it brought him true pleasure just to hang out with me.

This is how our heavenly Father, how Papa, is with us. Papa loves us unconditionally. In the depths of our rebellion He is there, with His arms opened wide, smiling as we run to jump up in His arms. Not only does Papa find us when we are lost, but as we come to Him, He demands that all the best is prepared for us. We know that no matter what we do, He will always be there. We no that what ever we try in His name, He will be our biggest fan. Papa, is my biggest fan even when I continue to stumble trying to be the best husband, father, and pastor I can be. Papa is there with me saying “come on Jake, you can do it!” I may say or think, “But Papa, I can’t I’m not nearly gifted enough. My patience isn’t strong enough. I’m not smart enough. I’ve never done it that way before.” Then my heavenly Papa reminds me “Jake, I created you! I didn’t created junk. I bring life, I don’t steal, kill, and destroy. You can do it Jake, You can do it!” Then I remember the seeds planted by different people in my life, like my Grand-Daddy, that God is right, He can be trusted, because He is who He says He is, I am who He says I am! And with my Heavenly Papa, I have an assurance, that He has already been buried, and turned that situation up-side-down on itself. Jesus Got Up! So I will never have to be faced with sitting in a tent mourning His loss. He will be here as I seek to bring heaven to earth, and He will be here on the day that I meet him in His Heavenly Realm. There is nothing that can compare to the love of Papa. It is truly amazing.

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