A Dad who Runs | Perspective on God’s Character
She is screaming and stomping her little tanned feet.
“Daddy, daddy, dadddyyy!”
She hollers and waves her arms perched on the edge of the sandy boardwalk. I determine she’s about four or five.
Her dad is the one with the terrible sunburn, in the blue shorts. I know because I’ve noticed him come down to the beach the past two days, and I’ve witnessed his daughter step right off the boardwalk into the sand. Why is she having a problem now?
Her dad is no more than 15 feet in front of her. He has her baby sister perched on his hip and is (rather clumsily) attempting to put a stake in the ground for an umbrella.
There are three small stairs down off the boardwalk to the beach. The sand isn’t hot, because the hot sand won’t start until the later summer months. But she’s screaming that she can’t do it herself and she needs her dad’s help.
I am nearly in tears watching her dad’s reaction.
He drops the finicky umbrella, leaves their sand toys and bags behind, hoists the baby higher on his hip, and runs. He runs.
He doesn’t stand far off and let her figure out she can do it on her own. He doesn’t tell her she’s just fine and needs to calm down. He doesn’t roll his eyes at her childishness and ignore her wailing. Sure, she’s stepped off the boardwalk 35 times over the last few days without a hitch. Of course, he’s told her the sand isn’t hot and she has nothing to be afraid of because he’s with her. But he doesn’t stand far off and teach her a lesson or let her stand their wailing and stomping until she grows tired.
Her good dad runs to her. He doesn’t walk, saying “ok, ok, you’ll be just fine.” He runs and bends down on her eye level and tells her everything will be ok because, “daddy’s here”. He scoops her up on his opposite hip and waddles with both daughters back over to the fallen umbrella and array of beach supplies.
There’s been a good deal of rhetoric lately suggesting that God is cruel and angry, out to punish us for offending His mercy. When tornado’s strike and children are buried, some have suggested that it’s because those people deserved tragedy because of their sins against God. Others have painted a picture of God as slightly more loving, but not intimately caring and seeing the affliction of our souls. This God teaches little girl’s lessons and stands far off too busy to run and help.
I spent 23 years of my life fearing God and tiptoeing around trying to avoid upsetting Him. I did a lot of good things in attempt to outweigh the bad. I lived in terror of His punishment. Bad things would happen and I would try to figure out what I did wrong to cause the pain and apologize to God over and over, begging for mercy. He was a cruel taskmaster. This God I feared for 23 years didn’t call me Daughter and didn’t run to me when I was scared, especially over little things like boardwalks and boys. I didn’t call him Dad and I didn’t believe He saw my wounded heart.
But now? I watch this little daughter and dad playing in the sand and am reminded of how deep and wide and long is the father’s love for us.
The Good Dad I know now runs to rescue little girls off boardwalks, scooping us in His arms and saying, “Dad’s here. We’ll do this together.”
Now, the little girl is doing a gymnastics routine on an imaginary bar on the sand and her dad is watching and smiling. If you need rescuing or watching and smiling, I hope you feel our good Dad’s unfathomable tenderness. It might wreck you.
Let’s talk about your view of God. What is his response in the story above? Does he yell, “you’ll be fine”, roll his eyes, or run to scoop you up? Is He a cold tyrant or a good Dad?
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