by Brenda Henry
Chaos spilled from every classroom and forced its way into the hallway where I stood cowering beside the drinking fountain. Gigantic eighth graders shoved their way past my six-year-old frame, leaving the impression that the snowstorm outside had entered our school. Shouts of "Where's my mitten?" and "Who took my headband?" echoed through the hall and overwhelmed me.
Scared, I leaned against the painted concrete wall and sank to the floor. As my position lowered, my fear heightened when an ideal view of the blizzard came into view through the large windows on the school's front door. Each time the door opened, the howling wind sounded its warning, slammed the door against the inside wall, and allowed anxious parents in to bundle up and deliver their child safely home.
With every slam of the doorknob against the wall and every unfamiliar face that entered, my knees, held tight by my arms, drew closer to my chin. Remaining stranded at school in the middle of a blizzard was unthinkable. My thoughts spun around in my head like the whirlwind outside the school. Who will come for me? Mom's afraid of snowstorms. She can't drive in this. She'll never make it. Dad's at work. There's no one. What will happen to me?
Petrifying fear of being left alone with the "mean" teachers kept me seated below the coat hooks. I fixed my eyes on the foyer door, knowing it was the only entry point for any potential hero to reach me. I wished the shouting and bustling would drown out my thoughts, but their aggressive efforts pushed in on me, leaving me impotent to calm down. Pressed against the wall as scarves and boots flew past my head, I felt alone. I was cold, I was frightened, and I was missing one mitten. I just wanted to go home ... but who would come for me?
Then, through the frosty glass in the front doors, I saw Dad bounding up the stairs. My buckled knees did an about-face and held me as I jumped to my feet. By the time he turned the knob and the wind slammed the door open on my behalf, I'd already shouted "Dad's here!" three times. Fear melted away like the snowflakes he brushed off his jacket. As I watched his piercing blue eyes sweep the room for me, I realized he'd never leave me alone. He wouldn't even consider it.
When our eyes finally locked, mine brimmed with tears. Relief filled me, but my knees remained locked and my feet wouldn't budge. He did not take his eyes from me as he strode toward me through the thinning crowd of students. Stooping down beside me, he removed his gloves, wiped my wet cheek, and whispered, "You ready?"
My spindly arms reached toward him.
Safe in his strong arms, my head bobbed above the remaining kids as he carried me toward the exit. He gave me one last reassuring look before wrestling with the school door, and then he stepped into the storm.
Once outside, he set me down, grabbed my mittenless hand, and we sprinted across the blustery street together. Secure inside his old white pickup, we brushed ourselves off and buckled up. Dad winked at me and put the truck into gear. I rested my head on his shoulder and allowed the relief to sink in. The storm swelled outside the dented truck, but I felt safe inside the cab, sitting next to Dad.
Even though that event took place many years ago, I've never forgotten that stormy day and Dad's rescue. It reminds me that my heavenly Father has already done the same. He is ready to help at a moment's notice and no matter what the circumstance, he wouldn't even consider leaving me alone.
Remembering the fear and loneliness I felt as I shivered against the unyielding cinder-block wall of my grade school, I see him enter our noisy world, fraught with chaos and distraction. I sense him finding me, stooping down beside me and, as his piercing eyes search mine, I hear him say, "Good news, kiddo. I'm here. You ready?"
"Are you the One?" I ask, "Are you the One to carry me home?"
He nods. I reach toward him, grip his hand tightly, and feel him lift me up. Walking beside him, I am aware that the cold in my fingertips has disappeared, replaced by pervasive warmth that permeates all the way to my heart.
Abba, I think, I knew you'd come.
The Embrace of a Father edited by Wayne Holmes
Copyright © 2006; ISBN 0764200569
Published by Bethany House
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.