In my early morning reflections on Father's Day, I think back on a sermon preached by a friend years ago in our church. I don't remember all the details, but I remember the title: The world ain't supposed to be this way! The minister explained that the words were those of an elderly black man, after witnessing an ugly racial incident.
Those words ring true, especially on a day like today, especially when thinking of the true-life stories that cross our desk on a regular basis.
A heart-broken mom contacted us very recently to inform us that her son, still in his 20s and in prison, had taken his own life. And now it is up to her to care for his child...a little boy with no dad today.
I have a friend on the sex registry after serving time for a crime he didn't even commit. His children, all adults now, never forgave him for the alleged offense and refuse to even let him contact them. A father and grandfather who is not celebrating today.
The visiting rooms in Michigan's prisons will be overflowing today, and the scenes would touch you. Elderly fathers with pain in their eyes, visiting sons who made some mistakes along the way. Young moms, some of them pregnant, bringing little kids to see their daddy on Father's Day. They must painfully separate after the visit. Alone once again on this special day.
Other children and fathers must be satisfied with a very expensive phone call from prison, thanks to the immoral and exorbitant rates they are forced to pay.
I had the wonderful privilege of performing music and speaking with a number of female prisoners a few days ago, and I very briefly shared with them a story I heard early one Sunday morning on TV's Hour of Power. The guest minister was one of my favorite preachers, Richard Mouw.
He said that in his busy life he occasionally liked to take a break and read a good detective novel. But he also admitted that by about page 146 he became anxious, because the hero was in serious trouble and the heroine was in the hands of captors. And Rev. Mouw then made a confession: “I go to the last chapter.” He advised the audience that he still went back and read all of the book...he just wanted to be assured of the outcome.
And I chose to take his application of that story to prison with me. I reminded these women, many of them hurting and in a dark time of their lives, that they're still on page 146. And I said that I could offer them hope with assurance, as I held up my Bible, because I had read the last chapter!
The stories of my many prisoner friends, whom I deeply love, make me a bit melancholy early on this Father's Day.
But I thank and praise God that we're promised a happy ending in the last chapter!