IT WAS A CRISP SATURDAY MORNING as my dad and I jumped into his truck and headed for town. The smell of Big Red chewing gum filled the cab, and I knew it was going to be a good day. At the age of four, a child looks forward to going on an adventure with his father. As we pulled up to the local hardware store, I noticed my dad’s eyes. They sparkled like a child in a toy shop.
We exited the truck and walked into the hardware store. I followed close behind my dad because he knew the way. This was his place to connect with other men. (I’m sure he had frequent flyer miles there.) I was no taller than the bottom shelf, so my vision was limited. As we started down the aisle something caught my eye. I can’t recall what it was, but it grabbed my attention. As I sat on the floor to tinker with the item, my dad continued to walk on ahead. After moments of playing with the item, I looked up to find my dad. He was gone.
I looked to the left. No one. I looked to the right. Nope, no Dad. I started to panic. I remember the anxiety of feeling alone. My heart sinking. Tears began to fall. I ran to the end of the aisle and rounded the the corner into the next aisle. Still no dad. I became frantic and started to cry. I screamed, “DADDY!” My chest heaved as my breathing became deeper. Faster. It felt as if my heart would beat right out of my chest.
After what seemed like hours of hyperventilating, I heard my dad’s voice. He was calling my name. “Nate!” I never heard such sweet and reassuring words as when my dad called out my name. I knew that I would be found and everything would be all right. As soon as I had him in my sight, I ran to him and jumped into his arms. I wanted him to embrace me. Hold me. Carry me.
As he and the clerk behind the counter laughed, I knew that I would be fine. My dad made a purchase, and we made our way out the store and back to the truck. I heard my dad’s voice and was able to come to peace as I crawled into the safety of his loving arms. I never considered the lesson I learned that day until I was older.
In the book of John, chapter 10, Jesus talks about sheep. They know their shepherd’s voice. Sheep need guidance and direction. They need a leader or someone to care for them. Yet even with a leader, sheep still wander off and get into problem situations. They sound a lot like us. Have there been times you wandered off? Is there something on the shelf that has caught your attention and distracted you from following your father?
Some people wander off and will never take time to listen to the Father’s voice. Some people will continue to allow distractions to stand in their way. But for me, I was empty. Alone. Heartbroken. I needed to hear my father’s voice. I needed to be in his arms. God is our heavenly Father. He longs for us to hear His voice.
Maybe it is time to let go of whatever it is in life that seems attractive and keeps you from following the Father. When you seek God like I sought my earthly dad, our Heavenly Father will hear you. He will find you and embrace you. So that is my prayer, “Cry out to God. Realize you have a Father that is ready to embrace you.”
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4, NIV)
Feel free to join the conversation. What are some fears you have faced? Have you ever wandered off? Tell us how you handled it.
Nate Ward is a jack of all trades that has taken the scenic route in life. Nate has been in worship bands, rock groups and even a stint in a rap group. He loves to speak to youth, college age groups, and preach at churches when invited. He has helped lead men’s studies, youth and children’s ministry.
Nate is now 16 years in ministry. He volunteers for Youth For Christ/Campus Life, is on the planning committee for the annual Fellowship Fest in La Porte, Indiana, and a board member of All In For Him Productions. He enjoys writing, making videos and making podcasts. Nate continues to live in Northwest Indiana. He is a proud father of two beautiful girls. If you would like to contact Nate he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock - wavebreakmedia,and Nate Ward.