Friday, June 18, 2010
They say a child’s understanding of the Heavenly Father is strongly influenced by that child’s relationship with his or her earthly father. If this is true, it is no wonder I have always thought of God as a kind and loving being who is ready to help.
It felt safe in my dad’s presence, even while living in a war torn country. If I was sick, my father healed me because he was a doctor. If I needed help with homework, my father was there. He was like a walking, talking encyclopedia – he knew everything! If my toy was broken he could fix it. He read stories to me at bedtime, looked at the stars with me through his telescope on clear nights, went fishing with me on warm days…and yes…disciplined me when I needed it. Growing up, I never knew hunger or want.
Even as an adult, my father was there if I needed him. I remember a time as a young wife and mother when my car's breaks wore out. I was driving down a hill and realized I could not slow down. I had to swerve in order to avoid the car in front of me as I flew down the hill. Once at the bottom, I was able to slow my car by simply not applying the gas. I drove the rest of the way home at a crawl. My husband and I discussed it over dinner. We thought of all the possible ways to come up with the money for new breaks. But at that point in time, we simply did not have the funds. So I called my dad to ask for a short term loan. I apologized, saying I wouldn’t have called but I had exhausted all of my resources. As my sweet father offered to give me the money for new breaks instead of loan it, he said, “You have never exhausted all of your resources if you have not first talked to me.”
As a child I learned to swim by jumping into my father’s arms. He was a good swimmer and I knew he could be trusted. He would not let me drown. But I remember a time when I was in another man’s arms. When the war broke out in Nigeria, we often encountered road blocks with armed soldiers as we traveled from village to village. On this particular day, the armed soldier peered into our car and saw me and my sisters sitting in the back seat. He opened the door and pulled me out of the car into his arms. I was very blonde as a child and I think this was the reason he chose me. At any rate, this man proceeded to tell my father that he wanted to take me for his bride. I was all of about 8 years old at the time.
My father handled the situation superbly. He was fluent in the tribal language and began bantering with the soldier in his own language. This surprised and amused the man. My father laughed as if the man was joking and told him my “bride price” was too high. It was the custom in Nigeria for a groom to pay a dowry for his bride to the bride’s father. My father knew this custom and jokingly told the man that my price was too high. The soldier laughed and told my father to name my price but my dad just laughed back and replied that it was so high even kings could not afford me. The amused soldier put me back in the car and allowed us to continue on our trip.
I think about that now. I remember being in this man’s arms but I never felt like I was in danger – because my daddy was there. From my father’s point of view, it must have felt a bit differently. An armed soldier had just taken his daughter out of his car and had her in his arms with a loaded gun by his side. My father could have easily become hostile and things might have turned out very differently. But as it was, my father and my Father protected me.
“…we have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba!, Father!” Romans 8:15
“There is none like God…who rides the heavens to be your help. The eternal God is a dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:26-27