“Wow it’s hot! Stinky and sticky isn’t it punkin’?” I asked my daughter as I scrunched up my nose and squinted to make light of the miserable temperature. I shouldn’t teach her how to complain but my brain had melted somewhere around “Aisle J” in the grocery parking lot and most of my southern manners were attached.
I opened every door of our van to let the heat demons run free and checked if our “NY State Required” booster seat would fry her like a pancake. Assured of her safety, I carefully hoisted her preschool frame into the van, shoved a bottle of water in her lap and launched the air conditioning while I slid into my own leather skillet up front. Mindless music played in the background while coherence slowly returned in accordance with the cooling temperature.
Twenty minutes later, as I rounded the last corner before home, my daughter let out the most horrifying, window-shattering scream I’d ever heard from her since infancy. I nearly jerked the wheel off the dashboard while maternal instincts hit the brakes, swerved off the road, dodged a ditch and brought the car to a swift halt. I whipped off my seat belt and swung around half out of breath, “What’s wrong?! What happened Madigan?!”
Her tiny tears seemed to synchronize with her quivering bottom lip. “You didn’t buckle my seat belt Mommy.”
If I hadn’t seen the genuine fear in her eyes, I might have given her one of the numerous lectures mothers give to typically over-dramatic children. But…she was scared. She looked down and realized that I hadn’t done all I could to keep her safe and secure and her vulnerability frightened her.
You can imagine how quickly I got up, wrapped my arms around her, spoke assurances of my love, dried the tears and then buckled her safely in. But I made sure she looked right into my eyes when I said, “Mommy will sometimes make mistakes. But God is your Protector and He will never let anything happen to you unless it’s part of His plan. He loves you the most and kept you safe almost the whole way home, didn’t He?!” She smiled agreeably and my blood pressure began to rescind, so I swung back around and gave an over-sized sigh of relief. My thought’s immediately echoed a slight variation of Psalm 127:1 “Lest YOU Lord, protect this child, I labor in vain to protect her.” Thank you…again.
When I pulled into the driveway, she said reflectively “He’s my Father too Mommy.” This time, I bounced a smile in return to her as I realized she had to have been thinking about what I’d been telling her for the past several days; that our God is also our Father. At different times and in various ways, I’d been sharing with her the Daddy heart of God that provides, watches over, instructs, corrects, never leaves, never forgets, and so loves that she never needs to be afraid.
I’ve realized that it doesn’t take too much in life for me to have a sudden sense of vulnerability. Life can be going along at such a high speed that I’m certain the next bump in the road or unexpected curve is going to sending me flying. I can look around at my circumstances and think that the Lord hasn’t done all He possibly could to “secure me” and make sure of my safety in lieu of the potential for harm or pain. Fear can come so easily when I lack the assurance of the Lord’s love and care.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” Rom. 8:15