I want to tell you about the time when I was a bride for a day and how I wore white to walk down an aisle between picnic tables under a pavilion in the park.
It was a simple wedding with bagged lunches and tables filled with baskets of candy and Korean treats. I remember the wind blowing through sheets of sheer curtains and my bouquet of flowers, stuffed with roses and blue thistles.
The night before, I sat in the hotel room with my bridesmaids — those friends who became sisters — making memories forever seared into the heart, no matter the many miles between.
There we were, stuffing gift bags for guests and thinking over last-minute details for the big day to come. There was a moment, in all of our laughter, when the room grew small and everything seemed to move in slow motion. There was laughter and chatter, friendship and fun, but I needed something beyond that moment — something that only a father could give.
I slipped outside the room and stepped into the hallway of the hotel. Then I knocked, ever so gently, on the door across from me. It swung open.
“Just needed a Dad hug is all,” I said, falling into the arms of my father.
The moment lasted all but a few minutes. Even so, it was everything I needed for that day and to be carried into the next. This magical memory of my wedding, of having my dad within arms reach and not 1,851.2 miles southwest in San Antonio where he lived, reminds me of the fragility of family. It reminds me just how many of us are missing pieces from the puzzle of our lives. Mothers who move to different states, children who chase professional pursuits in other cities and countries, grandparents who’ve gone off to live how and where they’ve always dreamed, fathers who — for whatever reason — are far from us.
Sometimes, these missing pieces — these people — can be gathered. Sometimes we can travel through time and space to see them. But, sometimes, the pieces — our people — can’t be put back together again. It could be distance. It could be death. It could be danger. It could be disagreement.
It reminds me when Jesus told His disciples — those best friends who became brothers — how He’d soon be leaving them and how the Holy Spirit would come and be with them in His stead (John 14:15-31). And, goodness, am I ever so desperate to be reminded of the Holy Spirit who came — and still comes — to tangibly fulfill the felt needs of those who follow in His footsteps.
The truth is that there is not one day in all of the Gregorian calendar, Chinese calendar, Jewish calendar — or any calendar for that matter — that gives time and space enough for the vast nuances that come with being human. New Year’s Eve will always fold out and be forgotten, Independence Day will always remind us of the ways we are not yet fully free. Mother’s Day will not always bring the depth of rest that mothers crave, and Father’s Day will not always fulfill our hearts to feel the love of a father.
And I know that the words on this screen cannot touch you in all the whole and hurting places that coexist within you. These words cannot replace the love of those fathers that should have been there all along, protecting and teaching their children how to tie their shoes and change their tires.
But the Holy Spirit can touch you — the Holy Spirit can reach deep into every hidden place you hold within your heart. The Holy Spirit can meet you in the chasms on the calendar — the gaping holes in which you are waiting to see and sense love show up on a day like today.
The Holy Spirit is present, even while you are in pain, and He holds space for your heart, like a hug wrapping you up in the arms of a loving father. He whispers:
I am not a distant God. I am closer than your skin, thicker than the air you breathe. My love is louder than your loneliness. I am with you — in the surgeries, in the emergencies, in the celebrations, and in every mundane moment in-between. I am holding out My hand to you with more than a hug for you. I promise you My presence.
The words from one of my favorite worship songs go, “There is a God who loves me, who wraps me in His arms.” (This song is available and beautiful to listen to in both English and Spanish.) As you move and love and celebrate and cry through this weekend, may you embrace this truth: You are held in the arms of your Heavenly Father, and His love is a hug for you.
Monica L. says
Thank you for this beautiful post and powerful reminder that our Father is not distant, but right here with us.
Rachel Marie Kang says
You are so welcome, Monica. He’s right there with you ♥
I cried through this article. I lost my Father May 2020 and all I could feel while reading this is how much I miss him and wish that I could just walk down the street, where he lived, and get wrapped up in only a hug a Father can give. BUT, your words reminded me and comforted me that the Holy Spirit is in fact within me and surrounds me. Thank you for your words today. God Bless
Rachel Marie Kang says
Oh, Susen…I hope this truth continues to wrap you up as you go throughout this weekend. As those memories come up…I hope you give space to them. Grace to you this weekend.
Marie Campbell says
Wonderful words of encouragement of the nearness of our Father who is ever present, and always with us. You are a gift and have a great ministry. Continue to be blessed and a blessing to all that read your inspired words. Blessings
Rachel Marie Kang says
Thank you, Marie. And grace to you as you go about this weekend. May you experience that nearness.
I’m thankful to be held in the Heavenly Father’s arms since my father left this earth in 2014 and even while he was alive, I never felt that I measured up and never felt that he had unconditional love for me.
Also, I could relate to the phrase about sometimes the pieces can’t be put back together (well, at least not yet they haven’t been)…my heart aches for my husband who has been a great dad and yet we have an estranged relationship with our son who probably won’t be in touch on Father’s Day. Heartbreaking.
Rachel Marie Kang says
It’s so crazy, when we zoom out, and remember everyone’s puzzle looks different. My heart to you and you make peace with the pieces of *your* puzzle. May there be peace and hope for you and your family this weekend. Much love <33
Lorene Thompson says
A beautiful devotion and much needed to hear today. Thank you for bringing this message today.
Ariel Krienke says
My earthly father and I are not close. I’ve been trying to build trust between us and have healthy boundaries. But I have peace knowing my Heavenly Father is always there and always loves me. So I’m ok always because I have complete love even if it’s not from dna related family
Brenda M. Russell says
Thank you for sharing these words and thoughts expressed by context. I grew up without my biological father. My Grandmother and Mother were so loving and made me aware that I was expected to be obedient, kind, smart, and to share with others. Now, I am 63 years wise and my Mother is soon to be 82 years wise. I am still learning about Mother’s love and I hold and cherish memories about my Grandmother and her kindness.
I agree with you. Family is like a puzzle with many pieces. Some you can see easily and others are more difficult to locate and relate to in ways that make sense. Family can take on different meanings for different people with their own perspectives.
I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit teaching me the truth about the Word. Then He teaches me how to grow and relate to different days and situations. I love Holy Spirit. I need Him all the time. I am glad God sent Him to help all His children.
Yes, I still long for an earthly father’s love. But I have the best of all, my Heavenly Father. He’s a good, good Father.
Enjoy your day.
Your Sister in Christ
Becky Keife says
These words. Just what my heart needed to hear from God. Thank you.
Beth Williams says
My family is so widespread that we have only gotten together for mom’s & then dad’s funeral. Over the years we have gone our own ways. It is super hard for me to watch family shows where everyone seems happy & sees each other often or at least on holidays. I never had that growing up. We moved a lot & my sisters left home in various states. Very appreciative of God’s love & care. Praising God for the blessed Holy Spirit who can hug us as only a father could.
Emily B says
I lost my dad this past February after a 16-year battle with cancer, and this being my first Father’s Day without him, it’s been an emotional day. It’s hard to describe how badly I wanted him to be able to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, and the thing I miss most is his hugs, so reading this, it seemed like the Holy Spirit helped you write this with me in mind. Thank you!