On Father’s Day the Arizona Republic ran a front page story by Karina Bland headlined A boy’s new life. It is a warm and wonderful story about a man, Nick Dugas, who reached out to help an abused, runaway 12-year-old boy nicknamed “Bug”. Nick eventually adopted Bug. It is a story of selfless and unconditional love.
I have never met Nick and no nothing about him that you won’t know after you read the Republic article. No doubt he is as flawed as any of us, but the story of Nick and Bug can be a powerful reminder of how our Father reaches out to us, saves us, and makes us his own.
Nick discovered Bug lying down in the shade of a building in Phoenix one morning. He offered the boy a meal but was rebuffed. Nonetheless, noticing that the boy had a cell phone, he wrote down his number and said that if the boy decided he wanted help, just give him a call. Nick was barely back to his car before his phone rang.
Nick gave Bug food and clothing and a safe place to sleep. At first Bug didn’t stay; he would come and go from Nick’s house. As trust grew, Bug eventually decided to stay. Nick provided Bug a room of his own and made sure he attended school. Eventually, after learning that Bug’s father had no interest in him, Nick took the necessary steps to become Bug’s foster parent and eventually his adoptive father. At his adoption Nick wisely told Bug that his anger and his hurts would take time to heal but that he was now loved unconditionally and was safe.
This wonderful story is a good reminder of how God, our Father, cares for us. He finds us, often hurt and alone, and offers a way out when we have absolutely nothing to give him in return. He doesn’t suggest that if we clean ourselves up and get our lives back on track, only then will he accept us. He offers to take us in the way we are, clean us up, feed us, keep us safe, and love us. We are free accept the offer or, as Bug did at first, decide it is not for us. Nonetheless, in God’s Word and in the presence of believers around us, we “have his number.” If we call out to him he is always their for us, as Nick was when Bug called him.
We are often distrustful of God’s goodness and fidelity, thinking surely there must be a catch! Even when we do accept help we often withdraw, preferring to live life on our own terms (seeming to forget that we were not doing it very well). But each time we return our Father is there, waiting for us, watching for us, welcoming us back into his home. He patiently waits for us learn that he really does love us and wants nothing more than the love of a son or daughter in return. As we grow closer to our Father’s heart we can learn to trust; We can let him begin the healing of our hearts and souls.
Unlike Nick and Bug, we don’t have to navigate a bureaucracy before we are adopted. When we have faith in Jesus we are adopted as his brothers and sisters. We have access to the lives we were always intended to have: lives where we experience the love of God and enter into the mutual love that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always enjoyed. Our hurts may not heal overnight, but we can know that we are safe in the unconditional love God.