All of her life she had known that he was somewhere out there. She had never met him, and her mom raised her without his help. He took off when he found out her mother was pregnant. For the most part, she had a good life. She seemed to be well adjusted. Her mother had eventually gotten married, and her stepfather was a pretty nice guy.
And yet through the years, she felt an emptiness that gnawed at her heart. She had a longing for his presence. She wondered what he was like. She wondered if he ever thought about her. After all, she was his daughter. He was her father.
Now she was old enough to find out who he was. She could contact him and let him know all about her. She could reach out to him and let him know that she couldn’t wait to meet him. She had dreamed about the day they would finally connect and begin a relationship. And finally she acted on it. She wrote a letter expressing her feelings, sharing her desire to meet. She put the stamp on the letter and hopefully slipped it into the mail. And then she waited … and waited.
She sat on the couch in tears, uncontrollable tears. She was once again holding in her hands the letter she had mailed to her father, the man she had longed for all of her life. It had come back to her in the mail with those dreaded words written across the front: Return to sender. Her biological father had denied her letter, and rejected her once again in the process. The ache would continue, but now it was only deeper. There was a man out that who was her father, but he had made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing to do with her.
I once saw this story line in a television plot. It was a gripping tail that could easily have happened today, and in similar but different circumstances does happen. Rejection is real. It comes from parents, friends, and loved ones at times and can crush a heart, crippling our emotions.
Ultimately, human love can fail us, but there is a heavenly love that never fails. Over and over, Jesus spoke of God using the term Father. Jesus came that might be reconciled with and to the father. Perhaps you have spent much of life separated from God. Maybe you have led a “good life,” but something in you is missing, longing for a deeper connection. There is a presence that your were made to connect with. For some though, there is fear. Will he really take me as I am? Does God really love and care for me, or will he reject me? Will my prayers come back, “Return to Sender!” Maybe you feel God wants nothing to do with you.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The whole Bible is the story of God’s pursuit of people like you and me — people who have been separated and disconnected from God due to our sin. The truth is that God is the one who is seeking for us.
Jesus said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11). Jesus was contrasting earthly fathers with our heavenly father. Most earthly fathers will meet the needs of and show goodness to their children. And yet this can’t even begin to compare with the goodness of God the father. His goodness far surpasses any human parent. He does not reject those who see their need and truly reach out to Him.
Your heavenly father is longing and waiting for you to reach out to Him. He has already reached out to you in the person of his son, Jesus. The question is not whether God will reject you, but will you reject him and his love? Open up, turn to Christ, and let the father welcome you into His loving arms.
And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 634-2960.