A few weeks ago, our daughter came into our room during the middle of the night saying she was afraid of the thunderstorm going on. My husband volunteered to stay with her so she wouldn’t be scared, and she ended up falling back asleep almost right away. With the scary storm still raging, she was no longer afraid because her daddy was right there beside her.
Often times, God will use our children to teach us how He desires to interact with and provide for us. He gave me a very clear picture that morning: He is my Heavenly Father who comforts and protects me while the storms of life rage around me. I’ve believed this with my mind, but not necessarily with my heart. In the midst of all my daily parenting responsibilities, I tend to forget the simple truth that God parents me.
During one of our recent Bible lessons, I asked my son and daughter to list several ways that God is like a father to us, using some of the characteristics and duties of their father as an example. Fortunately my husband is a great dad who’s crazy about his kids, but if I had used my own father to try to parallel God’s fatherly ways, the list would have looked quite different. It would have read “distant”, “unstable”, and “indifferent”, instead of “loving”, “protective”, and “involved”. They say that the way you view your earthly father, good or bad, is the way you will also view your Heavenly Father. Only recently have I been able to really see and know God as father. The concept was so foreign, I didn’t believe stories such as the Prodigal Son could ever personally apply to me.
Now, I’m not afraid of thunder and lightning (though that particular storm was a doozy). As an adult woman, I am fearful of things like being alone, and being seen as incapable. I’m also afraid of change. When I’m called to step outside my comfort zone, I go into full flight or fight mode and “flight” wins every time. Our first Sunday here in Oklahoma, I was pretty much a nervous wreck, and it wasn’t because we were going to be called up on stage to be introduced to the congregation. Gregg left early to set up for the service, and I was left to get myself and two small kids dressed, fed, and out the door by 9:00 am.
This was a place I felt absolutely called to as a family, and had looked forward to moving to for weeks. But that morning, I suddenly understood what “homesick” really means. I was 1,400 miles away from everything familiar, and I wanted to drive the minivan in the opposite direction of the church, toward East, where they say “cawfee” and have the best pizza and bagels. The enemy knew I really felt all alone, and attacked. I was bombarded with thoughts like, “you’ll never fit in here”, and “you won’t make any close friends”. Insecurities were coming out of the wood work!
Our first week in our new home also brought a severe tornado warning, complete with thunderstorms of biblical proportion. Hearing tornado sirens for the first time in my life brought me to a new level of terrified I’ve never experienced. My mind kept flashing to that scene in The Wizard Of Oz where Dorothy tries in vain to get inside the storm cellar, and the house is picked up and carried away. I think it might have rained 25 out of 31 days during the month of May, too.
Eventually, those feelings of homesickness faded away as I got to know people and my way around our new community (and I learned to distinguish between weather alerts that warranted “total freak out”, and those that did not). In the meantime, however, I had to trust my Father that He would lead me through the storm of anxiety I was facing. I had to lean into Him from the howling wind, and allow Him to be my source of protection. Sometimes it literally felt like a tidal wave crashing down on top of me. The truth is, He was right there with me in that deep water, just like my hubby with our daughter during the thunderstorm. And He is right there with me while I am tempted to be afraid of failing at motherhood, or homeschooling, or any number of things.
He loves me with the same intensity that any good father would love his children. It’s not based on performance. And because He loves me, I am also lovely. 1 John 4:18 says, “perfect love casts out fear”. When we know deep down in our souls that the Maker of Heaven & Earth loves us – not the “I love chocolate” kind of love, but that never ending, unconditional, all consuming love we have for our own kids, we are much less likely to be afraid of the giants in front of us. We are much less likely to believe the convincing lies of the enemy. No matter the example of my earthly father, or the storms of life, I can rest in the glorious knowledge that my God is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), who provides shelter and all that I need every minute of every day.