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240 pages
Apr 2006
Bethany House Publishers

The Embrace of a Father

by Wayne Holmes, editor

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


Never Alone

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.

My Daddy Is Good

by Tracie Peterson

from The Eyes of the Heart

I sat in the airport the other day waiting for a connecting flight home. I was tired, but the trip had been a real blessing, and so it was a good tired. The kind that comes from a sense of deep satisfaction.

As I sat there waiting, I found myself watching people once again. It was only moments before a uniformed flight attendant came up with a child in hand. The girl looked to be no more than nine or ten. She had lovely chocolate brown eyes, black hair, and the sweetest smile.

"Sit here," the attendant instructed. "I'll come and get you when it's time for the flight."

The girl nodded and took the seat beside mine.

"Don't worry, now," the attendant said with a smile. "I'll just be standing right over here. I'll be able to see you the entire time." The girl nodded and began to swing her legs back and forth.

I smiled at the girl as well. I told her my name and broke the rule about talking to strangers. I figured she was safe. I told her I was heading home after being gone almost a week. I told her that I had a little boy her age. She waited politely for me to finish, all the while swinging her legs. She told me her name and then added that she was traveling from Texas to Missouri to see her sister.

I was so compelled by this girl's ease. She seemed completely content to be traveling alone. Perhaps she had done this numerous times, I thought. Perhaps this was an old routine that she'd grown up with. I decided to ask.

"Do you travel by yourself a lot?"

She shook her head and grinned an infectious grin that warmed my heart. "Nope, this is my first time."

I was impressed. "Are you afraid?" I asked, thinking that if she was, I could offer her some kind of encouragement or conversation until she was on her way once again. Little did I know that she would be the one to offer encouragement.

"Nope. I'm not afraid. My daddy told me things before I got on the airplane."

I was intrigued. What things had her father said that so easily put her at rest about this trip? I hated to pry, but I needed to know. I've been flying for a good part of my adult life, and I'm still not at ease as much as this child.

"So what did your daddy tell you?" I asked.

She gave a little bouncing momentum to her leg swinging. "He told me I didn't need to be afraid. He told me everything would be okay."

I nodded, trying to encourage her confidence, but she needed no encouraging. "He sounds like a very good daddy."

She nodded in rhythm to the bounce and swing. She was a body in perpetual motion. "He is a good daddy," she declared. "He loves me."

She said it with such confidence that I was thinking about her long after the attendant led her away for her next flight.

Her words reminded me of my heavenly Daddy. He too is a good daddy. The best of fathers. And He loves me. I couldn't help but think of the girl's confidence in this now distant man. He had told her she didn't need to be afraid, that everything would be okay.

Joshua 1:9 came to mind: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Our Daddy says we don't have to be afraid. We don't have to be terrified.

Is something scaring you? Are you trembling in fear, uncertain of the future? Maybe the bills are all due next week or even today, and there's no money in the bank to cover them. Maybe you've prayed and prayed for healing, but the tests keep indicating a problem.

Perhaps someone is threatening you--hovering nearby to cause you harm. Maybe someone wants to see you fired ... evicted ... divorced ... dead. You're afraid to answer the door for fear of who might be on the other side.

"Be strong and courageous ... do not be terrified." Our Daddy is good. He loves us.

Do you believe that? Do you have the faith of a child who upon boarding a plane for a cross-country trip takes the words of her father to heart and has no fear? A child who fairly dances in her seat in anticipation of the journey ahead, even though she is making it alone for the first time?

"Do not be discouraged."

The problems of this world are temporary. Like dust in the wind--momentarily stirred up and then blown away. Our Father promises us that He will be with us wherever we go. He promises us that we don't have to make the journey alone.

Our Daddy is good. He loves us. Take it from the heart of a child who knows. Take it to heart and know for yourself. There will always be problems and conflicts. There will always be things that threaten our balance, our hope. But God is good. He's told us some things before we ever started the journey. He's given us words of wisdom--measures of advice--love letters in His Holy Word.

That little girl helped me to remember that faith is knowing who you're dealing with. She knew her daddy. Her nine or ten years of dealing with him gave her confidence in his behavior and credibility. When he told her it would be okay, she knew she could trust the matter to be right. She knew it because she trusted the one who spoke the words.

Do you trust the one who spoke the Word? Can you have the hope in your heavenly Father that this child had in her earthly one?

Listen. Our Daddy is speaking. He's telling us things ... things we can take with us ... things that will help us on our journey.

Are you listening?

Maybe you should take a seat for this one. Grab a copy of the Bible. Cross your legs at the ankle and start swinging them. Now give a little bounce.

Your Daddy loves you ... and ... He's got some things to tell you.

Excerpted from:
The Embrace of a Father edited by Wayne Holmes
Copyright 2006; ISBN 0764200569
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.