Our journey through foster care has been a revelation of a gospel for the inglorious moments of life. We had not intended to care for children with special needs when we began this journey, but it would seem that God has had much for us to learn.
Recently, our family has once again grown by one—a tiny little life, born three months before she should have opened her precious eyes and taken her first breath. We've sat by her side, praying over her as she fought for life, watching her slowly grow stronger until at last we were able to bring her home. She is a tiny tangle of oxygen tubes and sweetness, already adept at melting my heart and rousing that protective urgency men carry within.
In her moments of turmoil, her body still fighting for normality, I find myself scooping her up and whispering in her ear, "Shhhh... daddy's here."
How many fathers have whispered that line over the generations?
What is so special about that phrase that it should be uttered with such frequency, and longed for with such fervency by those who've never known a father?
Then I remembered what I had always known.
I assure my precious child with this simple phrase for the same reason my father whispered it over me. With it, fathers the world over have sought to instill in their children a sense of security. With such a simple phrase, fears have been stilled, anxieties put to bed, and monsters in the wardrobe put to flight.
When strength is coupled with tenderness, security follows—remove one of these key ingredients and security will fade like the morning mist.
If daddy is strong, but not loving, his presence is frightening and the thing of nightmares itself. Yet, if daddy is loving, but not strong, his presence is not enough to dispel the fears that press in on us.
So when I scoop my precious little girl up into my arms and whisper, "Shhh... daddy's here", I'm really saying, "Fear not little one... I love you, I am here to protect you, and come what may—I'm not going anywhere."
We all long for a father to whisper such words over us.
I've learnt many things through becoming a father to the fatherless—some things about myself, but mostly I've learnt more about the Eternal Father, the one who loved me enough to give his one and only begotten as a ransom for my life.
This is the father who at times whispers over us, but often shouts above the storm, these words:
Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.