He holds out the baseball expectantly, miniature bat slung over his shoulder.
"Can you pitch me a few balls, Daddy? I've been practicing."
"Can you come play with me?"
"Too busy," comes the short reply.
But, Daddy misses the disappointment in his eyes because he never looks up from his work. He walks away slowly, hoping to find someone else to just look at him and verify that he does, indeed, exist.
"Daddy! Look what I made!"
The small artist beams proudly, holding up her latest masterpiece. He looks. Her smile widens. He reaches for it. She holds it out eagerly. He frowns. Her smile slips just a bit.
"Do...do you like it, Daddy?"
"What's this?" He points to a portion of the picture so painstakingly painted moments before.
"Why, that's a rainbow! Aren't the colors pretty?"
He laughs. She smiles again.
"I thought you spilled some of your paint. Maybe I can show you how to do a better one?"
But the exuberance to try is gone. So is the smallest hint of a smile.Nothing she does measures up to his scrutiny. Maybe she should give up painting altogether.
The teacher stands at the front of the class.
"I have an exciting announcement, Class! Tomorrow, we will be celebrating Father's Day a few days early. You may bring your fathers with you to class. There will be some special treats. In preparation for our fun day, we will all make cards for our fathers to present to them tomorrow."
The conversation buzzes noisily around him, but he stays hunched in his chair. No one seems to notice him as he looks down at his desk. The teacher walks around the room, distributing paper, crayons, paints. The little girl seated next to him chatters at him as she receives hers.
"Mine will be the very best because I have the very best Daddy! I'm going to decorate it with lots of blue. That's Daddy's favorite color. How are you going to make yours?"
He shrugs. So does she and turns to continue her chatter to the girl on the other side of her. He angrily brushes away the tear that persists in forming on his lashes. How does one make a card for someone who doesn't exist? Of course, Mom tells him his daddy lives out west somewhere, but he's never seen him. When no one is looking, he stuffs the paper into his desk and busies himself with studying his fingernails. At least that is something he can see.
She rushes to the window as she hears the familiar crunch of tires in the gravel of the driveway.
"Daddy's home!" she yells.
She greets him with a big bear hug around his knees. He laughs and swings her into the air.
"How's my little rosebud today?"
She squeals with delight, then looks sober.
"What's wrong, honey?"
He drops to one knee and looks deep into her eyes.
"I almost forgot. I did something bad today."
He gathers her into his lap.
"Tell me about it."
"Well, Mommy told me to clean my room and I didn't do it. I pretended like I did, but I really stuffed all of my toys into the closet."
She drops her eyes to the floor.
"I wish I had done what she told me to."
"Well, you'll have to tell Mommy what you did and that you're sorry you disobeyed her, then how about if we go and work on it together? I have a surprise for you, and I can't wait to tell you about it!"
She brightens and runs off to find Mommy, reveling in the freedom of sins forgiven and the promise of fellowship with the Daddy she adores.
What is your view of God? No matter what kind of earthly father you have, God is the perfect Father. He's never Abusive, Absorbed, Accusatory, Absent. He adores you simply because you are His!