Tick… Tick… Tick… Boom-boom… Boom-boom… Boom-boom… Tick… Tick… Boom-boom… Boom-boom… The clock told the time as it ticked with each swing of the pendulum. One a.m., but I did not care. I smiled. There was another sound in the room that spoke louder, louder than words. My daddy’s heartbeat kept perfect rhythm in my ear as my head lay on his chest. With each beat, I recounted in my mind the last two hours as well as the last 33 years. “If you could change anything in your life, to make things better, what would it be?” my father asked. “I would spend more time with you!” A lifetime of near absence had taken its toll on my heart. I had cried before and spilled more tears over this subject than anything else in my life, but this time was different. I finally had the place I needed to let it all go and never take it back: daddy’s presence. I let go of the pain…the hurt…the regret…all the seconds on the clock that I would never get back. It’s tough to be daddy’s little girl when you can’t remember being one. It’s hard to allow your dad to hold you in his arms when it feels so foreign yet so right. It’s difficult to know what you should feel as a “daughter” when you haven’t had a father for most of your life. This was the first time that my father had been my daddy. As he held me and my tears poured out, and my life-long defenses came tumbling down. I didn’t need to be afraid anymore. I didn’t need to hold back. Three decades of regret and sorrow came pouring out of him, too. “I am so sorry. I am so sorry… Oh, God…” I had heard beat-around-the-bush-apologies a few times before, but this time they came without excuses. No strings attached, just sorrow. It happened so fast and yet took a lifetime. For 33 years, the enemy had been building walls between my father and me. The enemy had worked on both sides of the wall. “He doesn’t love you,” he would say to me, while whispering in daddy’s ear, “You can’t do anything about it now. It’s been too long.” “He has forgotten you.” “Forget about her, it’s too painful to face it.” “It’s not safe. Don’t open your heart to him.” “Look in your heart. You failed.” “Be afraid!” “Run!” “Run away!” And we did. Even though my father’s heart beat for me, I didn’t know it. My heart yearned for him too, but he never realized it. Maybe the enemy had not anticipated that our hearts know a Heavenly Father Who made these two hearts, Who called us by name, Who speaks the language of love, Who is Love. For years, He was speaking, too. And this is what He said: “Forgive him. And forgive him again. Forgive him again.” And again. And again. It was a process. Boom-boom… boom-boom… Tick… tick… In that very room where the clock kept its vigil, I had heard God speak to me four years before. “Who am I holding in offense?” I asked Him. He answered, “Forgive your dad.” “Seriously?!” I argued. “Again?!” I protested. “I’ve done this already, God! Really?! Ok… ok! I’ll do it again.” Healing tears began to pour out. And He added, “And ask him to forgive… YOU.” “For what? I wasn’t the one who abandoned the family!” I answered. Then in a moment of revelation, God showed me how I had looked down on my father all my life for his choices. I thought myself better than him. I had not honored him as God’s Word instructs me to do. Not once. I judged him, and that was not my job. In fact, it was sin. Tick… Tick… Tick… After preparing my heart and a gift to give him, I went and asked him to forgive me. He didn’t see that I had done anything wrong, but after I explained the disobedience I had toward God and judgment toward him, he readily accepted my apology. I was free of the unforgiveness and judgment, and free to heal! Boom-boom. And time went by… Daddy was still absent. Three years after I had asked for forgiveness, he called. He asked if he could come and visit me. The night he came to see me, he said the words I had longed to hear my whole life. “You are beautiful.” “You are radiant.” He complimented my life choices. He encouraged me to be all I can be. He recognized changes in me, the fruit God had been growing in me. Then, he finally saw it. He saw the pain in my eyes, the blame I had aimed directly at myself all my life, the unconscious effort to earn love by driving myself to perform, to be good enough to keep. “It is NOT YOUR FAULT. It is my fault. I did this. I was the one who ran.” He finally caught a glimpse of the road I had walked without him. “God listens to you. He hears your prayers! He has been tugging on my heart for quite some time to come see you…” “I love you so very much! I always have, and I always will!” “I’m here. I’m here…” Finally, he was there… I know some of you have had a father who wounded you. Perhaps, like me, you need to forgive him. The Bible says, to "Wait on the Lord, and He will renew your strength." Your father may return one day with a repentant heart or he may not. Be brave, regardless of the outcome, and release him to Jesus in forgiveness. If you have held him in judgment, I encourage you to ask God to forgive you, too. Not only does God want to heal your heart and your relationship with your earthly father, He also wants to heal your relationship with your heavenly Father too. The wounds from an absent father are an easy target for the enemy who would try to deceive us into thinking our Father in heaven is the same as our father on earth. Don’t believe the lie that your Heavenly Father is absent. He is NOT. In fact, His heart beats for you! Boom-boom! Know it! One heartbeat says so much. Everything you’ve ever wanted to hear Him say, He is saying. Listen! “Has anyone told you lately how beautiful you are?” “You are absolutely radiant with My love!” “I hear your prayers!” “I’ve missed you so much!” “It’s not your fault!” “I love you so very much! I always have, and I always will!” “I am here, I am here… for YOU.” No matter what your earthly father has done, is doing, or will do, your Heavenly Father is here. He is the I AM! He is loyal. He will never leave you; He will never forsake you. Run to Him and rest in His presence.