Fathers and Faith
by Lee Strobel
Our family lived in an upper-middle-class neighborhood northwest of Chicago. My dad worked hard to build his business, and he provided everything we needed—and more—materially. He was a faithful husband, well regarded in the community, and a committed friend to others.
Still, my relationship with him was always frosty. Maybe I needed more affirmation than the other kids, I don’t know. But by the time I came along, there would be no Cub Scouts, no cheering at my little league games, no watching my speech tournaments or attending my graduations. I can’t think of a single in-depth conversation we ever had. I never heard the words I needed most.
Over time, I learned that the only way to gain his attention was through achievement. So I strived for good grades, was elected president of my junior high school, served as editor of the high school newspaper, and even wrote a column for the community paper. Still, none of the accolades satisfied. I don’t remember any words of affection coming from my dad. Not one.
Growing up, I just knew that as doubts festered inside and as my teachers insisted that science has eclipsed the need for God, I was being increasingly pulled toward skepticism. Something was missing—in my family and in my soul—that created a gnawing need I couldn’t even describe at the time.
Years later I was driving down Northwest highway in Palatine, Illinois—I can still recall the exact location, the time of day, the sunny weather—when I flipped the radio dial and heard something that flooded my eyes with tears.
I didn’t catch it all, but it was about fathers and faith and God and hope. The voice belonged to someone who was born about the same time I was and yet whose life, in its astonishing horror and brutality, was the polar opposite of my own. Still, there was an instant connection, a bridge between us.
I had to track her down. I had to sit down and hear her story, one on one. I had to ask her my questions. Somehow I knew she held a piece to the puzzle of grace.
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