by David Kalamen, Pastor, Kelowna Christian Centre
It has been seven years since my father, Arnold Kalamen, passed away. I think about him often, and gratefully, I am still able, through recording done through technology, to hear and remember the sound of his voice.
I recall one of my last visits. We had both created fond memories around fishing together, whether it was Atlantic cod near Lunenberg, Nova Scotia or fly fishing for mountain trout at Pennask Lake, British Columbia. That day, I brought over some trout fillets and cooked them up. It was my Father’s Day gift.
I was taken back by his reaction. He was lying in his bed. I leaned in and gave him a hug, and he held on and wept. In a God-designed moment, I realised something I had never understood. Father’s Day was traumatic to my Dad.
You see, my Dad never had a Dad growing up. I have no picture of my grandfather on Dad’s side because he left his family when his Mom became a Christian. When my Dad was six months old, his Dad took them on a holiday, divorced her and brought them back to live the life of a single parent. Though his Dad worked within blocks of where he grew up, he refused to see his only son, and refused grandchildren access to him. He and his Mom grew up in abject poverty without the care or love of a husband or father. I am not sure what was more difficult: not knowing your Dad or knowing that your Dad didn’t want to know you.
I heard a touching story about a father whose son had become very ill. After the boy had undergone an exhaustive series of tests, the father was told that his son had few days to live. Dad knew he would go to Heaven, but he struggled to know how to tell him he was going to die. With a heavy heart, he bent over his son and asked, “Are you afraid to meet Jesus, my boy?” Blinking away a few tears, the son said, “No, not if He’s like you, Dad!” Well, I am not afraid to meet Jesus.
My Dad loved his Mom immensely and cared for her until the day she passed. However, my Dad had experienced a father deficit in his heart. He could have, like many in this present generation, become a social statistic. Studies link many social dysfunctions to a lack of fathering: homelessness and runaways; high school dropouts; adolescents in chemical abuse centers; suicides; imprisonment; etc. This aligns itself to the prophet Malachi who linked fatherlessness with a curse on culture (4:6).
Thankfully, my Dad turned his father deficit into a father blessing. He got to know Father God, and met with Him on a daily basis in prayer. Father God became a Father to my father and taught him how to be a good father. I love the way the Message translates Psalm 68:5, speaking of Heavenly Father: “Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in His holy house. God makes homes for the homeless…” My Dad grasped the importance of becoming the face of Heavenly Father to us, and helping us by introducing us to his Father.
My Dad could have carried an orphan heart to his grave, but he gleaned not only from his knowledge of the character of Heavenly Father, but from wholesome father role models around him. He chose to serve some elder men, and always treated the older men as fathers. He listened to them, learned from them, and translated that into healthy fathering towards his own son and daughter. We were the recipients of that father’s love.
God was gracious to our family. Between my father, myself and my son, we have invested our life and service into the city of Kelowna, BC, for over 100 years. We had the unique opportunity to see three generations work together. That three-generation commitment stands to this day as a new generation is emerging with the same heart to care for a City and a people.
Malachi, the prophet, spoke about a time when God would “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (4:6). There has never been a greater need for this than in this present generation where far too many men have abandoned their posts as lovers and guardians of their family.
The call is clear this Father’s Day. If you are a father, turn your heart to your sons and daughters, and be reconciled, just as Father God, through His Son, reconciled the world to Himself. If you are a son or daughter, turn your heart toward your fathers, all of whom have their own story, and be reconciled.
Love you Dad!
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