An Exhortation from Pastor Fred

The late Pastor Fred once counseled a younger pastor who was deeply frustrated with his people in our community who could never seem to “get it together”.

“Why don’t you just love them like the father they never had?!”

The love of the Father gives us an identity, a calling, and a reason not to act like animals or people “who don’t know their left from their right”, but rather as children of God. This advice has been resounding in my mind since I first heard the story. I was convicted of my limited non-Father-like compassion.

When patients take off their own braces that were placed in another country a decade ago, and then expect me to fix all their teeth,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When patients come in with their daily 2-L bottle of soda in their handbag,
Love them like the Father they never had! …Then gently throw the soda away.

When parents blame their kids for eating too much candy as cause of their rampant tooth decay, but do not take any responsibility themselves,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When parents threaten their kids with injections for misbehaving at the dental office,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When patients can’t help but use expletives in normal daily conversation, coupled with illegitimate verb conjugations,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When patients receive free health care, then tell me they went to Disney World for Christmas, brought their Xbox with them, and then interrupt a dental procedure to answer a call on their iPhone,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When patients refuse to quit smoking and/or doing drugs while pregnant,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When our patient proudly announces how he fathered eighteen children, but cannot remember all the mamas’ names or children’s names,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When our patient tells us she had to relocate because she woke up next to her husband banging his mistress in the same bed,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When our patients are caught having sex in the stairwell of our Christian health center, and my coworkers tell me not to get angry at the lack of respect since “it’s not like it’s never happened before”,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When a patient insists on needing narcotics, even if there is nothing wrong with his teeth, and even though he told me he was in a drug rehab program,
Love him like the Father he never had!

When patients purposely feign mental illness to collect social security,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When nobody does what I tell them to do,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When everyone does the exact opposite of what I tell them to do,
Love them like the Father they never had!

When I condemn myself for behaviours that I have a hard time forgiving in others,
Look to the love of the Father, and receive it again and again and again and again and again…


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