One of my friends lost her father today. His body at last surrendered to cancer, his soul set free to soar on wings like an eagle. He is soaring — she is sinking. I cannot come close to imagining what it must be like to say goodbye to your father for the last time in this life. By God’s design, fathers are meant to be one of the most important people of our formative years. They are meant to shape our understanding of one of the most intimate relationships we have with God - that of a father. I have been blessed with a great Dad! What sweet memories of growing up with Dad; wrestling, reading, going on wild adventures in the park, meaningful talks, swimming, devotions, camping, soccer, letting him get my hair ready for church when Mom was away for a weekend. But one of my favorite memories was when he would come home from work at the end of the day and the 4 of us kids would hear his truck pull into the driveway. We would immediately drop what we were doing and run screaming with delight to the back door. The back door was set down a little from the rest of the house with 3 steps leading to kitchen, and we would push and shove to be first in line at the top of those steps. Then with baited breath we would wait for the moment when the door would open. Seconds after he opened that door and dropped his lunch pail on the floor we would turn our backs to him, squeeze our eyes tightly shut, and launch off the steps backwards into his arms — trust-falls! Like domino's in a cascading line we would launch off one after the other relishing those milliseconds of weightless sinking, never once concerned about the danger because Dad always caught us at the end of the fall.
Life has a way of replicating trust-falls. Sometimes we choose to take those leaps of faith, when mustering all of our courage we leap off into the unknown, hearts filled with faith and prayers filled with hope. Then there are other times, when we are pushed into a free fall. Circumstances contorting around us, forcing us over the edge into that frightening unknown where all we feel is the weightless sensation of nothing. I wonder if my friend feels a little like that tonight. Like she is falling, sinking into a great unknown, wondering if there is a bottom and what it will feel like when she finally hits it. My prayer for her tonight is that in the midst of this free fall of pain, she would experience one of the sweetest moments a child of God can know — the feeling of his eternal arms underneath!
For this God who formed us, who watches over us, who knows each hair of our head and each thought of our mind, He understands that our life holds many moments of sinking. He feels each time we begin to fall, flailing in the air, desperately looking for something, someone to hold onto. He knows that we can’t see his arms, but he has them stretched out just the same. And when at last that falling ends and we open our eyes, surprised to be alive, we realize that we have landed safely in our heavenly Father’s outstretched arms. Dad always catches us at the end of the fall!
“The everlasting God is a refuge and underneath you are his eternal arms…”
- Deuteronomy 33:27