The Heart of the Father
Okay, hi, I’m Sherri. I am a cradle charismatic from a small town in Oklahoma and I’ve been following Jesus all the days of my life, and I want to keep going. Over the course of my life, there’s been an element of fear that I’ve been trying to get free from and it started when I was probably about four or five years old.
There’s a significant age gap between my siblings and me. When my brother went off to college, my sister and I didn’t share a room anymore. I can remember the first night that I was in my room by myself, I couldn’t go to sleep. I got out of bed and I went to talk to my mom and dad. My mom said, “Sherri, it’s time for you to go to bed.” And I was like, “But I can’t go to sleep.” And she said, “Well, think about all the stuffed animals in your room as being angels.” I was like, “Mom, that makes me more scared.” She said, “Okay, well start singing a song.” I was like, “Well, what song do I sing?” She said, “Sing, sing one of the songs from church.” I was like, “I can’t think of any songs from church.” And she said, “Sing I love You, Lord.”
So I went back to my bedroom and got in bed, and I was paralyzed in fear. I could not move. I can remember there were windows in my room and it felt like things were looking at me. So I started singing. As I started singing, I began to relax a little bit, and then I continued singing, and eventually, I was able to fall asleep. So for probably the first, I don’t know, 20 years of my life, that’s what I did. I’d sing myself to sleep with “I Love You Lord.”
But that fear wasn’t just…There were three different things that happened all at once when that fear came in. One of the things that happened was my sister and I went to find one of our cousins who was fishing in somebody’s pond and we had a friend with us. Our friend Amy had a little dog and as we were going to look for our cousin, her little dog was walking in front of us. The people who owned the pond that the cousin was fishing on had a German Shepherd and the German Shepherd attacked the poodle. I didn’t see it. I heard it. And it sounded awful. Needless to say that tiny little poodle did not survive.
Right around that same time, I had a dream. We lived out in the middle of nowhere. Like, I think we had 240 acres that we were on. That’s almost a mile of land that was just us. So we were out there on that piece of land. I had a dream one night that my dad and I went, we were walking through the pasture, and we went into this one particular dip. We went into this little dip that was like a little bit of a valley. When I looked over to my right, there was a coyote and it scared the bejeezers out of me and my dad didn’t do anything to protect me from the coyote. I think I woke myself up.
Then my brother moved off to college, and I was in my room alone. That’s when the fear came in. So fear was always there. And like, there was some weird stuff that happened in that house.
We were connected to a church. But again, it was way far away so you couldn’t really build community because of the fact that it was way far away. But my mom and dad invited people over so that we could do a hayride one year. Dad put hay on the back end of a flatbed trailer and my mom was driving the tractor. We’re out on all the back gravel roads, and we’re doing our thing and we’d come back.
I was sitting between my aunt and my uncle. My dad needed to tell my uncle something and he was wearing leather-soled boots. He walked across the tongue of the trailer to my uncle from the tractor. He said whatever it was that he needed to say to my uncle, and then on his way back, he slipped and fell underneath the trailer. He grabbed a hold of the axle of the wagon, and he pulled himself up. My mom dragged him because of the roar of the diesel engine. We were yelling, yelling, yelling, and she couldn’t hear anything because she could only hear the tractor.
So my uncle jumped off of the trailer and runs in front of the tractor, and he waved my mom down. So my mom finally gets the tractor shut down. They pulled my dad out from underneath the tractor and his shirt was completely shredded because she’d just drug him on a gravel road for hundreds of feet.
I can remember I was like five or six when that happened, and I can remember saying, “Is he going to be okay? Is he going to live?” And I don’t think that the person that told me this realized that they were talking to his daughter, but some woman turned around and she looked at me and she was like, “There’s no way he’s gonna live.” I can feel the hopelessness of that situation. But at the same time, in the midst of that, my first response was to pray. And I know that this is a horribly judgmental prayer. But the prayer that that five-year-old prayed was “Lord, I don’t want to grow up without a parent. Would You? Would You fix this Lord? Would You come and will You heal my dad? It was fear-based and it was judgy because I didn’t want to be a kid that didn’t grow up without both of my parents.
But the Lord did, like He came in and it was a long road to recovery for my dad. They ended up life-flighting him or care-flighting him to the hospital in Tulsa. He had road rash from the top of his shoulders down below his waist. It ruptured his spleen and I think that one of his lungs collapsed. Bruised his heart, and bruised his liver and kidneys. But there was significant damage that was done to him. He’s got brown eyes and his eyes were like, so bloodshot, that they were almost black. Like, the entirety of his eyes were almost black from the pressure of what happened.
The pastor of the church that we were going to at the time, called in pastors from a church that they were moving to in the area, and they all came together and they prayed for my dad. One night, the doctors came in and said, “You’re gonna have to have skin grafts.” So [the pastors] came and they prayed for him. The next morning, when the doctor came back, there was a 50% recovery that had taken place overnight to the skin on my dad’s back, but he never had to have skin grafts. They sent him home with medicine and they were like, you’re gonna have a weak immune system and you’re always going to be sickly from here on out. You’re going to be prone to skin cancer, and like all these different things, and my dad is like one of the healthiest people that you’ll ever meet. I think that I can remember three times in my life when he’s been sick. So sometimes doctors are wrong. (laughing)
So, like the pains of our childhood, we don’t always realize the significance of them as they unfold when you’re a kid. I didn’t really think that there were any long-term residual effects of the time in that house. We didn’t like, [but] I’ve had to unpack [them] as an adult.
So fast forward, The Toronto Revival took place when I was in high school and I actually got to go to the school of ministry in Toronto, back when the revival was, really, really going strong. It was amazing because I encountered the heart of the Father in a way that I had never experienced before. His nearness was like, it was just right there and it was just really, really sweet, and it was precious. So I went up, and I got to do four months in Toronto, and I got to experience heart healing. There was a huge emphasis on it up there because it was all about the father heart of God.
If we’re going to identify with God as a father, we’re gonna see it through the lens of what our earthly dad looked like. And there are some times that our earthly dads aren’t a great reflection of who God the Father is, right? And my dad, my dad’s an amazing man, and I love my dad. We got some of the woundings healed up, which there weren’t that many. But there’s still this weird element of fear. I was scared of being by myself.
Several years later, I was renting an apartment and fear is there. It’s kind of like, I don’t want to say it was my friend, but I’m in my 30s and I’m still struggling sometimes to be able to sleep at night. It’s paralyzing, like, I can’t move. And when you’re in the dark, in the darkness, and you can’t move, it’s scary. What do you do?
I was renting an apartment from a family, the dad, he actually knew the authority that he walked in, and he would pray over his wife, and then he would pray over his kids, and then he’d pray for me, and then he’d pray over his business. There was a shift that came into my life regarding fear. I think that it’s directly related to the authority that he knew that he walked in. Because it was in that place that I realized, Oh, I was here completely by myself. They weren’t home in their house. I was by myself in my apartment and I was completely fine.
A couple more years go by, and I did a Restoring The Foundations situation. In the course of that, we went back to the accident that occurred with my dad. So I’m looking back at this memory and we forgave the lady who said what she said about my dad not making it, and I repented for judgment. It was the coolest thing. Because in that memory as they pulled my dad out from underneath the trailer, my dad morphed and he became Jesus. Jesus took on my dad’s body, and He took on the death that was there.
In that moment, when I saw my dad transformed into Jesus, I was like, not only was He there for me, to keep me safe and keep me protected, but He was also there with my dad to keep my dad alive so that I could continue to have a dad. I love that so much. I think that that’s such a beautiful thing. It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion to deal with some of the memories that were associated with that house.
Well, the most recent experience that I had was at the church that I currently attend. They started singing, “I love You, Lord.” And as they started saying, “I love you, Lord,” I saw myself in the room that was my room in the house that we lived in, and I was sitting on the floor by myself. I was completely content sitting there on the floor by myself and I had toys. It was like the congregation became angels that were singing around me. It was like that room from my childhood was filled with the voices of Heaven singing “I Love You, Lord.” I was completely content and completely okay. I knew that the Lord had done something really significant at that moment.
As I sat there, I was able to say, “Lord, I forgive my mom and dad for not being able to give me more than what they had.” Because they gave me their best. They really did. They gave me the best of what they had and I know that they gave me the best of what they had. It was just that what I needed was a little bit more than what they had. But the Lord was there.
As I prayed that prayer of forgiveness towards my mom and dad, there was something that was like in the core of my chest that disconnected and it broke. I felt a cold that melted out, and it went down out through my shoulders and down into my arms. I felt it leave and it went out my fingers, and then I saw pools on the floor. It was like this, this fear that was cold, it disconnected from me and it, it broke that day. It was something that had stayed with me, that had been with me for all of my life. And that day, I know that the Lord shifted it and it’s not there anymore.
Something that I didn’t tell you, that I think is also really cool. When I was in college, I took a meteorology class, and they were talking about, there are apparently four or five different types of rainbows. There’s the one type of rainbow that we see during the day that comes after the storm. But then there’s another type of rainbow that exists at night and it exists in the form of a halo around the moon. Which I think is cool because when there’s a halo around the moon, it’s usually indicative of an atmospheric shift. That’s kind of a cool thing. But also if you think about the symbolism of a rainbow, God’s not a man. He doesn’t lie. He keeps His promises.
So I was talking to my sister about the halo and the significance of a halo around the moon, and my sister was like, “There was a halo around the moon the night that dad got run over”. I think that that’s really cool because even in the night, God still keeps his promises. Even when we’re in a space that’s dark, God’s promises are still yes and amen. It’s just being able to hear the voice of the Lord and what He’s speaking in a situation. Regardless of whether it’s been day or night, regardless of whether or not it’s been darkness or light, He’s always been there and He’s always been with me. And the bottom line, He’s always good.