Known By the Father and By My Mentor  

What a wonderful gift, what a wonderful blessing – to be known. And oh, how that blessing and gift is missed when it is gone! Such was the wrestling of my soul when that thought first hit me after the passing of my dear mentor and spiritual father Dr. Bob Frederich. I, along with many others known by this man, still feel the loss of such intimacy derived from years of a grace-filled, mentored relationship. But, from the depths of that sorrowful insight has also come the reassurance that I am still known by the Father.

To be known, warts and all in a loving relationship, is a wondrous thing. Bob and I enjoyed 14 years of conversation and communion. He was good at creating a safe place for me to be myself and I was delighted to have a father figure of an older man to whom I could go for ministry and Life questions. Over the years of shared vulnerability (always a risk) we got to know a lot about each other. At the end I felt that he knew me just about as much as my own wife! I trusted him enough to share everything and hold back nothing.

His interest was always in the condition of my soul; not to just know about me but to know me. Many times he would ask the “How’s your soul” question and I would need to go deep, not deflect, and answer. It was in that relational care and accountability that I was able to be known and to grow. So it was that I looked forward to our monthly meetings where I could simply rest in the comfort of being known while processing the latest of life challenges. It was a wondrous thing.

And then it all was gone. Bob was gone. Although we had talked about such inevitability, prayed about it and sought to view it as much as possible though spiritual eyes (“absent from the body – present with the Lord” 2 Cor. 5:8), the reality of it was stark. The one who knew me so well was gone. How could I ever find someone else to know me as well? Perhaps I never would! In that moment I felt cut off, almost orphaned. My tears of grief were largely for myself. Bob was free, delivered, “at home.” But I was wrapped up in the separation and loss from one who knew me, REALLY knew me…

Then came a gentle whisper of a reminder, “But I know you. I have always known you. You will never be without my knowing you.” It was my heavenly Father. He had strongly impressed it upon my soul by his Spirit. The reassurance was tender and sweet. Instantly my spirit resonated with this truth! In the words of the psalmist David, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.” (Ps. 139:1). Indeed, I was still known infinitely deeper than that of any man or woman, mentor, wife or friend. The correction and comfort that came to me was that my loss was of a spiritual father not my heavenly Father. Although I was loved and known by one who is no longer with me, I am still loved and known by the Other who is always with me. And nothing can separate me from that love! (Romans 8:38-39).

So, even though I miss Bob in my soul, I will ponder this thought – that I am known by the Father. I will consider that as a disciple, all the days of my life, I am known by the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. Through his great work on the cross a way was made not only for me to be known as a son but to know the Father more intimately, with no barrier of sin or fear of death. Indeed, his blood covers me “warts and all.” And, in the end, nothing can separate us from our knowing one another.

How well are you known by the Father? How well do you know that you are? It is a wondrous thing!

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, LORD. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. – Psalm 139:1-6

Rev. Dr. Bob Frederich

Rev. Dr. Robert “Bob” Frederich