“God is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who worship him." ~ Psalm 103:13
For Joe, country roads brought back memories of simpler times - camping trips, picnics, and visits to Grandma's farm. For a while he was a child again – exploring, probing, and living in the moment. He loved hearing the birds sing, seeing wildlife roam their natural habitat, smelling fresh air and just enjoying nature’s quiet, natural beauty.
Up ahead, Joe spotted an old bridge crossing over the Dismal River. A distant memory stirred ... from back when he was an Indian Guide. Every fall their tribe made a three-day, 50-mile canoe trip on Nebraska’s wildest, youngest, and most undeveloped river.
On a hot day you could cup your hands a take a draft of the cool water. The banks had been alive with nesting ducks taking advantage of the shade provided by tall trees. Herons waited, poised on one leg, patient as the breeze; patient as the river itself.
There was one year he’d never forget. Dad dropped him at the launch with the rest of the tribe, made sure his life vest was secure and said goodbye as the flotilla set off.
Joe stuck his paddle into the river, pulled hard, then lifted and stroked again. Before long he and his canoe partner had a good rhythm going. He wished Dad could see him now.
About a mile downriver they came to an old suspension bridge. He looked up and there he was. His Dad stood right in the middle of the span. He didn’t shout instructions or do anything awkward. He simply waved until they passed underneath.
When Joe looked back, Dad was gone. Maybe he’d just imagined him?
But several miles later, at the next overpass, Dad was there again. And several after that.
It turned into a game. The whole tribe began looking for him. Every time they rounded a bend that day someone shouted, “There’s Mr. McDaniel!” They all waved now, but no one was happier to see him than Joe was.
Dad had taken a chance and gone the extra mile to show Joe his love. He never forgot that feeling.
Now as he drove across the bridge, he imagined Dad standing there, waving, encouraging him. Joe thought of the nightly prayer he’d said when his own kids were younger, asking God to “Help me be the kind of Dad my children need.”
As a parent, you've probably received a small taste of how God feels as "our Father in Heaven." When parents look into the face of their newborn baby, they know they’ll always go the extra mile and love that child no matter what. That's exactly how God feels about us, despite our failures or squandering what He's given to us.
Father God, bless those fathers who’ve taken seriously their parenting responsibility and especially those who are doing it alone. Strengthen all Dads by Your love that they may become the loving, caring, role models You meant them to be. Amen