I was 26 years old when I heard my father tell me for the first time he loved me. He had had a prostrate cancer operation 6 weeks earlier and was told it was successful. 4 weeks later my dad was told he had an unusual and vigorous form of leukaemia and only had a short time to live.
It was in this setting that my dad said to me. “Craig, there is one thing I regret. That is I never put my arms around your shoulder and told you how much I loved you. ” This was too much for me to handle. I emotionally could not receive what I was hearing for the first time in my life. My dad was a hard man, one who brought us up – “Men don’t cry. ”
He was not abusive as some dads are. He took us camping, fishing, hunting and taught me many skills. He had suffered much heartache while growing up and had never heard those words spoken to him either. When he died I couldn’t cry. And for the next 3 years I held my grief in; and though a wise man told me to go into the bush and throw a tantrum of all tantrums – I just could not do it.
On March 17th, 10:30am, 1997 I had an encounter with God where I knew I was saved. A few months later I was at a church camp; where I found I was being prayed for. God spoke to my saying;
“Craig, its time to cry! ” I said NO way; and tried to push those emotions deeper.
“Craig, its time to cry”; I heard God say a 2nd time and by now I was in a boxing stance, hands held up in a fighting position; all while a couple of people continued to pray for me.
“Craig, its time to cry and you will cry”; this most loving and gentle voice said to me; and 2 big arms came out of the air and gave me this huge fatherly hug; and I collapsed to the floor balling my eyes out. I ran to my room, where I cried and cried, deep tears of pain for over 3 hours. I then started to laugh. And I was filled with this incredible sense of joy. I laughed so hard that I fell of my bed and rolled around the floor laughing. This went on for a number of hours and the next day I awoke feeling incredibly refreshed, empowered, clean and healed.
This happened in 1997. Since then I have become the father of 2 boys and whom from birth I have held them and told them. I want you to know that I love you and like you very much. I have lately added a 3rd saying to this; in that I am very proud of you. In my work as a chaplain and in the church I have come across many people who have never been told they are loved, liked and that someone is proud of them. I make a point of finding a way to tell people this point…
And so today I want you to know; there is a God. And this God loves you! This God likes you! And this God is very proud of you!