Today my heart nearly stopped in terror. It was after church and I was having a conversation with a few guys on the worship team. I was standing in front of the stage (we meet in a high school auditorium) which is at about the level of my shoulders. My four year old son had gone around to the side, climbed up the stairs, and walked up to the edge of the stage. He loves to jump into my arms (off of play equipment, usually) and indicated that’s what he wanted to do. I lifted my hands up to tell him that I’d catch him, but he shook his head and stepped a few steps to the side where no one was standing. I told him not to jump and then stopped paying close attention. He’s smart enough to know not to jump off of a stage without someone to catch him.
Or so I thought. He took a flying leap- not feet first, but head first, arms outstretched. There was no hesitation at all- he absolutely knew I would catch him. I did manage to react in time and step into his flight path, but I can tell you it scared me to death. He really had no clue that I might not have made it. To him, I was “daddy” and that meant I can catch or stop anything. I can protect him from any kind of danger. One of these days he’ll realize I’m not that powerful, but thankfully today wasn’t that day. He went on, oblivious to how much danger he’d been in, even when I reprimanded him and he got in trouble. I could see in his eyes that he had no idea the stakes of his poor choice.
Reflecting on this, it made me think of our relationship with God. How sometimes even though he’s told us over and over again the consequences, we just don’t get it. We go off the deep end and make horrible choices, expecting that he will catch us. In his grace and mercy, often he does. Praise him for that! But how much better would it be if we trusted him when he tells us “That course of action is bad”? I recently saw a cartoon of a character leaping over a “fence”, only to realize it was a guardrail protecting him from going off a cliff. This is so true about how we think about God and his “rules”. We resent them, even though they are there for our good and protection. Alex had no clue that when I told him “no” that he was in danger; he just saw it as a place to push a boundary. Some day I hope he will learn that my guidance and direction are for his good, not to limit him. And I hope I will learn that about God as well.
But there’s another aspect to Alex’s aerial adventure that gives me heart. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have never attempted what he did without me standing there. No one else in the world gives him the confidence to leap with complete trust that he’ll be caught. Was his trust misplaced? Of course, and that’s something he’ll have to learn. But the truth his, he believes in me. He believes in my goodness and he trusts that I will always desire to protect and love him. That is the relationship of a father and son, and anyone who knows Alex knows he feels that relationship deeply.
This moves me, because this is how the scripture describes our relationship with God. We are grafted into the body, and God is our Father. We have that intimate relationship with him where he invites us to trust in his love and provision. We may misuse this at times and do our own share of leaping off the stage, but this itself is a testament to the real connection we have with the Creator of all that is. We revere and fear God, but we are also close to him. Close enough that we can trust he will catch us when we fall, protect us when enemies attack, or even be there when we take a header off a stage.
I praise God for his grace and goodness. I hope that as I am sanctified I will learn to trust God more in the right ways, not test him with risky behavior. But most of all, I’m grateful that I am his son and he is my Father, for that relationship is the most important one I will ever have.