This was at the start of the year 2015. It has been over a decade that I finally met with my dad and the extended family. My brother & I decided we should respond to an invitation to a Chinese New Year dinner gathering. The day came and we arrived at the place as agreed with the least enthusiasm. As we were approaching the given location, we recognized some seemingly familiar voices, followed by some seemingly familiar faces of the long-forgotten family. My nonchalance turned into anxiety within the next few seconds. I can taste my own tears as they back-flowed into my windpipe and ran down my throat as we get nearer and nearer to where they were.
There were a lot of emotions stirring in me when I saw dad. It used to be intense, I remembered hating him to the core. I didn’t even stand the sight of him! Actually, I cannot even stand hearing him speak or receiving his text messages. I resigned to the fact though, that he is my biological dad, with much disgust and feelings of injustice. I did not need to love him because he did not even fulfill his role as a father to start with. It was even justified that I do not need to feel sad if he met with any mishap or pass on. It was more than alright to stay away from him. Strangely, it was not so that evening. Before me, was a man who has seemingly aged a lot since the last time I saw and remembered of him. I was at ease and wanted to look at him. I was struggling to recall what was left of him in my mind, in my life. My data-base search was futile but I did not give up, I did not want to give up. As he spoke, I was listening, I was observing him. I wanted to know what has happened in the last 10 years for him. I watched him as he moved and as he talked. His hair has become grey but he was glowing with blushed cheeks. He was happy to see us and was just asking questions like we just knew each other. All these do not make any sense to me. I thought I would be irritated or was suppose, at the least, not feel anything. I am not suppose to feel sad like I have lost something. The sadness was intense like the lost was something important and precious for me. It did not make any sense to me at all. We spent the whole evening with dad and the extended family instead of only a short visit, as planned. I left with a heavy heart but glad that we went.
For the first time, I am looking at the parable of the narrow door in a different light. I have always assumed my positions at two extremes-either inside with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God on my good days or outside, as a condemned, thrown out of the kingdom of God and maybe still trying to justify and fight for a place by seemingly hanging around for a good cause. It struck me that this may not be the point. The two extreme positions I had taken thus far only shows how much I do not have a relationship with our Heavenly Father. I related to Jesus as a God-sent Judge while I tried my very best to earn my brownie-points to get through the narrow door. I totally missed the point, thinking I have been around, doing the right things right when there was not any substance in our relationship. I did not see the joy that our Father has through Jesus when I set aside time for Him, just to be with Him, just like how I saw the sparkles in my dad’s eyes when he saw me and my brother. I did not see the pain that our Father was bearing through Jesus just like how painful it was when I look at my dad and struggled so hard to find any glimpse of him in my life for that familiarity that I was yearning for and all I could see was guilt and regrets. I did not see the love that our Father has for me through Jesus when He patiently gives time to experience Him, to make sense of His Word, to come to repentance, to seek forgiveness as He offers reconciliation and restores us to who we are meant to be.
As easy as it is, like we all know, this narrow door is not about what and how we can do and do better. It is, as John Calvin said, about knowing Him, what it is to know Him and to what purpose the knowledge of Him tends. And after all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over situations after situations, I think I am just about to come near to the tip of grasping what this Love is about.