The father reached the well, drew his water, and watched us drive by for a little while longer before turning toward the house and walking home with a bucket of water in one hand. He never looked back at us, but his daughter was falling behind to pick some desert flowers not aware that she was falling behind. Daddy noticed though, and he stopped and waited for her just fifteen or twenty feet away. There was no rush, and it looked like he was enjoying the fact that she could play and be innocent. After a few moments, she looked up and noticed the distance between herself and her father, and he simply held out his hand for her. She skipped up to him and grabbed his hand holding her newly picked flowers in the other, and they walked back to the farm house hand-in-hand. Neither one of them ever looked back at us as we drove away.
I still think about that father-daughter moment as if I just saw it happen. Just a month later, my own daughter, Emma, was born. Being a father to a daughter can be stressful at times, but I often think about that father and how patiently he waited for her, how he calmly kept her safe, and how safe she seemed to feel by how she behaved. That is the kind of father I want to be for my daughter. I want her to feel safe, especially when she is with me, knowing that the world is right because I am in it. It feels great to be loved like that by someone so innocent. Liv likes to tell me when Emma says she misses me if I'm working late, or away from home because of some conference. I think it's because Liv likes to see me get teary-eyed with joy when I hear about it. As a father to a son also, I hope to set an example for Jacob to follow into manhood.
In many ways, God is like that for all of us, and that is the kind of relationship He wants to have with us. He is there with us while we wander around the fields of this world and discover things on our own, and when we stray too far from Him He is waiting with an outstretched hand to take us back. Many people will jump to the conclusion that God has abandoned us in certain seasons of our lives, but the reality is that we have wandered off. God is still on the same spot on the same path waiting for us to notice Him again and run up to His open hand. He is happy when we spend time with him, and let Him know how much He means to us. I'm okay with making God feel happy. It's the least I can do. It's pretty much one of the few things I can do for Him.
(Matthew 18:10-14, Luke 15:7, 11-31)