I almost drowned when I was a child. I can’t remember how old I was. Preschool I think. I was at the beach with my dad and some of his friends. I was only allowed to play in the shallows. Standing up, I was safely above the surface of the water. And I had on a flotation ring for added safety.
Then a swimmer banged into me. He wasn’t watching where he was swimming and he head butted me. Somehow I fell through the flotation ring and began to sink into the water. I was taking in water. I was drowning. But there was no pain. Perhaps it was the shock. The water was green and the sunlight that filtered through looked so pretty.
Then I saw my dad swimming towards me. His face looked very concerned. He swam strongly. And he pulled me upright. The next thing I knew I was choking, spluttering and coughing out sea water. The feeling was awful. But I was alive. Dad had saved me.
(You may want to censure my dad for taking me to the beach to begin with and putting me in harm’s way. You will then have to censure most families in Penang. A day by the beach was what we all did for relaxation in those days. And he did have his eye on me)
Now that I am a dad myself, I understand the look on dad’s face as he swam through the water to save his son. I would have done the same if my boys were in danger. It’s a dad thing.
Which is not to say we don’t make major boo boos in our parenting. I know I have. My dad had his flaws. We all do. But something deep inside us wants us to do our best by our children.
This parental drive is recognised in Scripture. Jesus said:
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:9-13 TNIV)
Commenting on this passage Darrell L. Bock writes:
“Luke 11:1 -13 speaks of the importance of looking to God and of approaching him. Sometimes God’s greatness causes one to think he is unapproachable. If he is busy with the universe, surely he is not concerned with one person’s request. Or maybe he knows all, so there is no point in burdening him with what he already knows.”
“In teaching the model prayer and in addressing God as a heavenly Father, Jesus shows that God has a tender concern for his children. He is not so great or so distant as to be unavailable. The disciples should be bold in their requests for blessing. Be assured that God is more gracious than human parents who give good things to their children.”
(Luke 9:51 – 24:53, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996, p.1063)
Unlike earthly parents, our heavenly Father knows our needs at all times. And in His Fatherly love He condescends to come down to where we are to meet us at our point of need.
The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them…”
(Exodus 3:7-8a TNIV)
Here are some verbs that describe the care of our heavenly Father “seen,” “heard,” “concerned,” and “come down to rescue.” I can’t help but think of my dad seeing his son drowning and rushing, diving, swimming, to rescue him.
Unlike Christ, we can’t say: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9b).” But even among fallen humanity there are those moments when we reflect the heart of God just a little. Like Jacob telling Esau when Jacob knew he had been forgiven: “For to see your face is like seeing the face of God…(Genesis 33:10b).”
There are many pictures of dad in the family home in Penang. He was a good-looking dude when he was younger. Even as he moved on in years, he had a kind and caring face. But I will never forget the face he wore when he was swimming down to rescue me. At that moment, seeing his face was indeed like “seeing the face of God.”
Dad passed away in 2003. I miss him still. I will always be grateful that through him I received a glimpse of the love of my heavenly Father. Made it easier for me to trust Him when I was drowning in live’s circumstances. And there have been moments. But Dad was there.