June is bustin' out all over as the song goes. This is my favorite month because I'm certain that winter is finally over. Schools are letting out this month, brides will join their grooms at the altar and we'll celebrate Fatherhood on June 17th.
It is with a sense of melancholy that I pass displays of greeting cards this time of year. I lost my father in 1991 when cancer won the battle that he had courageously fought for 10 long years. I remember him for many things. He never knew a stranger. He knew the value of hard work, pulling 12-hour shifts at a local factory to provide for his family. He told corny jokes and smoked too much. His only recreation was sitting in the dark on the front porch listening to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball games.
My father was also the most critical person I ever knew. Perhaps it was his way of trying to get his children to do better than he done. After all, he only made it through the eighth grade when he had to quit school and start working to help provide for ten brothers and sisters. No matter what I did, it was never good enough. No matter how hard I tried, I just never measured up. He would continually throw my mistakes up in my face and as my younger siblings got older, he seemed to delight in telling them about all the things I had done wrong.
It is no wonder that with that kind of an earthly father, I had a bad image of God, who the church said, was my heavenly father. "If my own father thinks I'm a loser, what must the God of the universe think of me?" is a question that I would often ask myself.
I finally began to win my dad's approval when I came to Cleveland to anchor the six and eleven o'clock news for WJW. I'm sure it was because I had a six-figure salary, I owned my own home and was considered to be "somebody." My father finally stopped criticizing and began to brag about his "number one" daughter's accomplishments. Then it was my siblings' turn to bear the brunt of all the criticism.
As I sought to win my father's continued approval and make him even more proud, I accumulated things and pursued career options that I knew would make him proud. All of them left me empty but I knew that the next acquisition would be just what I needed to make me happy.
In spite of a successful career and material possessions, I knew there was something missing. I long suspected the missing piece was God, but I knew that I wasn't good enough for Him. My list of mistakes was just too long.
In June of 1989 an article entitled "The Mystery of Robin Swoboda" appeared in Cleveland Magazine. It's content portrayed a successful but lonely woman searching for the meaning of life in metaphysical ways, belief in reincarnation, astrology and crystals. It's natural that I would have been drawn to those things because they weren't associated with a God I didn't think I was worthy of. However, that article was the catalyst for dozens of Christians to write me tender and loving letters pointing me to Jesus Christ as the One, the only One, would could fill my emptiness. For some strange reason, I wasn't offended by any of those letters but found the Bible I had stashed in my closet and started to read it. It wasn't long before I came across a scripture that would change my life.
"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18
It was like a death sentence had been lifted from my life. I immediately knew that God would forgive every wrong I had ever committed if I just asked. At that moment, I asked Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. I had never felt so forgiven and clean before.
If your father was critical of you, if he remembered every mistake you ever made and it's been a barrier to your acceptance of your heavenly father, please know this, God says, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12).
"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities." (Psalm 103:8-10)
In fact, God loves us so much that He gave us His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
What freedom! What unconditional love! All we have to do is believe in His Son and confess our sins and God says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions." (Psalm 103:11, 12)
Jesus Christ paid the price for every wrong you and I have ever committed or ever will commit. All we have to do is believe and God says, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." (Hebrews 10:17)
When you accept this truth, every day is THE FATHER'S DAY!