Throughout Signed, Sealed, Delivered, the topic of fathers, more specifically a father’s love, has been presented several times, striking a chord within me how I view the world, and my relationship with God.
In Truth Be Told, Oliver finds out the man he believed to be his biological father, was not. What’s more, this news was delivered in a shocking, painful way at the death of his actual biological father. And yet, despite a 15-year silence between Oliver and Joe, we see how this news rocked Oliver’s world, his perception, and the foundation of who he was.
When faced with a crisis Oliver is not unique---as none of us are---when we can forget all things we hold important in our lives in times of trouble. My favorite scene in Truth Be Told is the day Shane calls Oliver out, reminding him he was not a cynical man. Lovingly pointing out he knew what he needed to do, where he needed to go in order to find himself again-- to once again stand firm on his foundation, his faith-his rock. Shane was in essence a beacon, a shining light, helping Oliver find his way back to his peace, his comfort, his truth, his perfect love. What Oliver had forgotten was God’s Perfect love would carry him through the pain and fear he was now experiencing, and replace it all with hope.
In this scene Joe’s words continued bringing forth more of Oliver’s memories, “Being your father means everything to me and that’s the truth.” It didn’t matter to Joe that Oliver was not of his blood. Just as it doesn’t matter that we are not of Christ’s blood. Ephesians 1:5-6 says, "In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."
Joe adopted Oliver. He didn’t go through the courts, he instead chose to accept his wife’s infidelity and raise another man’s child as his own. Freely giving Oliver his name, and his love, despite the sins of the parents. Just as God has adopted us as his sons (children), whether we have a loving earthly father or not. Oliver had Joe’s love from the moment he saw him. And before he was even born, he also had God’s love. God’s perfect love.
Through my adoption, I grew up in a two-parent home with three older brothers. Unfortunately, I did not have that fatherly support with unrestricted love. Yes, he may say the words periodically, but growing up I never believed the words spoken. I could never reconcile the words he spoke with his actions. Actions that, as a child, I learned early on were lacking. Distrust and disappointment in him came early---rational or not---when he hadn’t protected me when I was sexually abused as a child. He has chosen for years to hide his emotions, or find his courage in a bottle, instead of interacting with and showing his family his supposed love for them. He decides to hide, as his father had before him, and as some of his own children are choosing now, as a way of coping with whatever is plaguing his sense of self.
And not being the loving father, that role model most little girls seek when it comes to marriage, I instead have a warped view of what a spouse and father should be. In its place I’ve witnessed a man, my father, who has shown contempt, disrespect, and sometimes downright meanness, over the years to family members and myself. It’s difficult to see outside the box and even recognize what a loving, caring father really is or supposed to be.
Mid-summer I was listening to a CD produced by the church I had been attending off and on for many years. One particular song, which had been on my playlist for some time, one day broadsided me. It was here God was able to finally rip through the surface of my anger using this song in combination with recognizing Oliver’s pain and reconciliation to what would be ultimately the beginning of my path toward hope and peace:
I recognized these words as God’s Perfect Love. The love Joe reiterated, while strumming a guitar, that the heart and essence of who Oliver was, so much more than just a name. I was finally beginning to understand, this, too, was my hope of perfect love.
Galatians 4:4-7 reminds us, "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you an heir." When we’re adopted by God we gain all the rights and privileges of a child in God’s family. What came before does not matter in God’s eyes. Our last name does not preclude our identity.
In Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Jeremiah 29:11 has also been used to portray God’s love in all its forms: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who raised us or who didn’t, all that matters is God our Father; His perfect love, and the hope for our future which lies with Him.
Humans are flawed, nor is human love perfect. But God is not flawed and God’s love is Perfect--- perfectly expressed, perfectly demonstrated. Through Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’ve learned that God is Perfect Love, and if we believe and forgive, he can do anything. He will guide us through our season of winter into our season of spring, thawing our hearts to receive him. In this place, His Perfect Love will bring us out of our wilderness, and on the path to where the truth will always be told.
The Living Letters series continues as long as there are stories (or even praise reports) to share, and I'm always looking for submissions. If you would like to contribute something about how Signed, Sealed, Delivered has impacted your life (or even your wardrobe) that you'd be willing to share here on A&D, feel free to email me. Keep the good going and submit yours today!