“…before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes,
He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children
and the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:5b-6)

The sheet of paper sat between us, the abrasiveness of its white color and the starkness of its dark text bringing finality to the feelings of shock that resonated deep within us.  While we still had questions over the details of the laboratory results, the overall message was clear: there would be no more pregnancies.

What was supposed to have been a routine follow-up exam before stepping out in faith for another pregnancy was now a wall in our path that shifted our life’s course for seemingly the hundredth time in a few short years.

It was Easter Sunday the day we found out. A day of resurrection. And yet we felt like we were back on that Good Friday when Jesus’ death left his followers and close friends with feelings of confusion and grief.

And I wonder if they asked some of the same questions that racked us in the days that followed: Had we been stupid to follow and trust so blindly? To hope so wildly? Or had we just been too dull to hear His voice as we tried desperately to follow His lead these last few years? Had we just completely missed the point of His messages given in infamous parable form? And always, the question that inevitably crept up no matter how futile it seemed to ask it… why? Why, oh why?

I am learning that in the seasons of a forced slow-down, when all seems dark and we feel hedged in, God seems less concerned with revealing our next step to us, and more concerned with revealing a new piece of His character to us. And as we sat with Him in the grief of our loss as parents, His Word started to come alive in our hearts with a new understanding of who He is as a Father…

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  (Matthew 6:26)

In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.  (Matthew 18:14)

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  (Luke 12:32)

And among so many other verses, the passage that still brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart beat faster…

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

(Luke 15:20b – 24)

Oh, can you see Him as a Father? Longingly His eyes searched that road for days on end for a glimpse of His son; achingly He longed for the presence of His son in His home again; and at the first sight of His child, it was with complete abandon that He raced down that long road to where he was and grabbed him up in a strong embrace.

And as He immediately puts a ring back on his finger and His best robe around the tattered clothes, notice what is missing: there is no rebuke, no long conversation about what went wrong, no firm assurance that the proper lessons had been learned… no, not even a one-word response to His son’s claim of unworthiness. Maybe those talks came later – or maybe they never came – but right then, there was only time for overwhelming love and joy and relief… the kind that only a good Father can pour out as a response to His lost son coming home.

It was this Father who met us as our life’s circumstances seemed to scream against the true character of our God. It was this good Father who ran to us in the midst of dark days, grabbed us up in His embrace, and held us until our sadness, fears, and doubts were eased. We have come to know His Father’s love in all those broken places, fears, and lies, and we have found it powerful enough to heal and redeem every single thing that we have brought His way.

What we couldn’t fully see at the time was that in the midst of God revealing to us His Father’s heart, He was slowly changing our hearts as well. Once we knew a Love like this, we would never be the same again…and once we knew Him in all those deep places, we found that our hearts started to beat with the same longing and desires that beat in His.

A few months after we stared at that white piece of paper, we sat in our first meeting to start the adoption process here in Guatemala. Each step of this process has deepened our resolve in both the goodness of our Father and in the magnitude of parenthood, and now we wait for the day that our eyes will catch a glimpse of our child and we can run to embrace the one we eagerly hope for. And while we have much learning and stretching ahead of us, we know that just as His love met us in the dark days of the tomb, He will continue to heal and redeem all the pieces that we and our children will bring His way… because only a good, good Father whose heart is bent on redemption will take a good Friday’s death and turn it into an Easter morning resurrection.

Throughout this season, we have been brought back countless times to the words of Malachi 4:5b & 6 that promise that

“before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes, He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers.”

And our lives now testify to a God who has kept this promise as He has met us in all of our broken places and brought about redemption while turning our hearts towards His children. The road has not been easy, and it has been much longer than I ever thought it would be, but He has walked with us each step of the way making good out of that which was not.

And if He has done this for us, He will just as surely do it for you.

Katie Eleiott Ficker moved to the rural highlands of Guatemala 12 years ago. These years have held her most important adulthood events including marrying her favorite farmer and becoming a mama to three beautiful children she wouldn’t trade for the world. It is here that she has also experienced the never-ending love of a Father who never lets us go no matter how dark life can get. Amidst home-schooling and working as a nurse educator, she writes to remember the beautiful moments in this life and the goodness of the One who gives them.

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