Lisa Kathleen Bruskas stole my heart on May 30, 1990. I had prayed for her, along with my wife Kara, faithfully in the months leading up to her birth. We had even seen grainy ultrasound images of her tiny face. But now that I held her on the day of her birth, I was overcome by how deeply I loved her. I knew in an instant I had moved into a role God had created me to fill. I was a daddy. I was Lisa’s daddy. I was going to pastor her, protect her and provide for her. I was sure there was nothing I wouldn’t or couldn’t do for her.
"It was in losing a son rather than in raising four daughters that I learned the most profound truth about who I am as a father: I am an under-daddy."
David Michael Bruskas was born 16 months later. I was a daddy again. Kara was a new mommy once more and Lisa a big sis for the first time. I experienced the same feelings. Love was expanding my elastic heart to its bursting point. I was a daddy. I was David’s daddy. I was going to pastor him, protect him and provide for him. There was nothing I wouldn’t or couldn’t do for him.
But this time was different. David was born with a congenital heart defect. He died two months and four days after his birth. I found out I was wrong; there was something I couldn’t do for him. I couldn’t make him live. My abilities were limited and my role temporal. My realization was both very painful and peaceful
. It became clear he belonged to God and was entrusted to me for a season. Psalm 127:3 makes this clear, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord."
Since then, I have become a daddy to Lauren, Jennifer, and Jillian, too. But it was in losing a son rather than in raising four daughters that I learned the most profound truth about who I am as a father: I am an under-daddy.
"I am an under-daddy serving my children through the finished work of Jesus (the gospel) in the power of the Holy Spirit."
If God is my creator and I am his creation, then my true identity is found in his reality. Or, said differently, my role in relating to my children emanates from who I am to God.
The Apostle Paul in Romans 8:15 casts light on this subject. He reveals to us that we relate to God the Father as "Abba," through the work of the Holy Spirit. Most Bible translators equate the Aramaic term "Abba" to the English word "Daddy." This means I am an adopted son of The Daddy. This also means that I am a daddy to my daughters and to my son in as much as I am first a son to my Daddy. I pastor, protect, and provide for my children out of the resource of love I receive from my heavenly daddy who pastors, protects and provides for me and them.
I am also a pastor. I am called to shepherd the flock of God. According to I Peter 5:1–4, I am a pastor serving people under the authority of Jesus, the chief shepherd. Once again, who I am to others flows from who I am in relationship with God. As a shepherd of God’s flock, I do all things through the finished work of Jesus (the gospel) in the power of the Holy Spirit. I am merely an under-shepherd who points people to the chief shepherd.
In very much the same way, I am an under-daddy serving my children through the finished work of Jesus (the gospel) in the power of the Holy Spirit. All I am and do is to point them toward God the Father, the chief Daddy. My job as a father is simply to reflect his fatherhood, mirror his glory and manifest his deep love for Lisa, Lauren, Jennifer, and Jillian.
Dave Bruskas is the Albuquerque campus pastor.
For more on faith and losing children, listen or watch to the sermon from the Luke series, "Jesus Raises a Widow's Son," in which Pastor Mark share part of Pastor Dave's story.