Our earthly fathers have duties that continue. One that surely comes to mind is oversight. That’s a duty of both parents—and older siblings as well—but again, fathers, because they usually are physically stronger than anyone else in a young family, are seen not only as providers but also as overseers, those who watch for the needs of the family (particularly physical and financial needs) and act to meet them when they arise.
Contrariwise, we don’t think much of a father who’s so wrapped up in his work, or the ball game, or the news, that his wife’s or child’s needs go unnoticed or unattended to.
A good Dad pays attention.
God is like that.
Jesus says, “Your Father … sees in secret” (Mt 6.18). And he’s not talking here about spying on you; he’s talking about seeing what good things you do and rewarding you for them. Dads watch for accomplishments, delight in them, and express praise.
Jesus continues the thought by adding that because your Father is paying attention, he also notices when you have a need (Mt 6.32). And because he’s your Father, he moves to meet that need.
In 1989 my wife and I, and our 12-month-old daughter, were traveling to Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with family. As was our practice, we split the 12-hour trip into two days for a more relaxing drive. We spent the night at a motel in southwestern Virginia, and Christmas Eve morning we set out to finish the trip.
It was unusually cold that morning—below zero Fahrenheit—and I was a bad father; it never occurred to me to check the antifreeze before starting out. If I had, I’d have seen that the radiator was frozen solid. A few miles up the road, as the system began to heat up, the lower radiator hose exploded. Steam was everywhere, and it was challenging to see to get the car safely off the interstate highway.
Pretty quickly I determined that it was the coolant system, not the engine. I knew we were just two or three miles from the next exit, and I figured that with the cold air, we might be able to make it there without coolant. Fired ‘er up and set off slowly, in the breakdown lane. When the engine temp began to rise, I stopped again and waited for it to cool down.
That worked twice, but the cold temperatures also cut down on the battery’s cranking power, and on the third try the engine wouldn’t crank.
Stuck by the side of the highway at 5 below. Because I hadn’t paid attention.
I marveled at how quickly we had gone from comfort and civilization to utter wilderness.
We sat for a while, hoping that a highway patrolman would come along, but there wasn’t much traffic, and soon the cold began to be a concern for us, with a 12-month-old in the car. I got out and flagged down a passing car, and an older couple gave me a ride to the exit.
There at that exit was an automotive repair shop. And they were open. On Christmas Eve. Which, that year, was a Saturday.
What are the chances?
And, believe it or not, they had a tow truck. So the driver and I hopped in and returned to the scene of my crime, and brought wife, baby, and car back to the shop. Thawed out the radiator, replaced the hose, and refilled it with the right concentration of antifreeze.
They didn’t take credit cards, and they didn’t take out-of-state checks. We weren’t carrying that much cash.
They took the check.
And a couple of hours after fearing for our lives, we were back on the road to Grandma’s house for Christmas.
Does God watch out for us, even when we don’t deserve it?
You bet he does.