by Don Watson
Sometimes I think I’m a little funny (not funny-Ha Ha, but funny-strange). I think about weird stuff – like I’m waiting at a traffic light and there’s this car next to me with a young couple in the front seat and I think (Here’s where it gets a little strange) “Here’s a family in this car beside me. They work and eat and live just like I do but I know nothing about them and they know nothing about me. I don’t know what they talk about – whether they’re happy or sad. I don’t know where they live or what their house looks like. I don’t know what they do or where they work. I don’t know anything about their past – if they were loved as children, or yelled at or abused; if they loved school or dreaded every hellish day – afraid some bully would beat them up or steal their lunch money.
And likewise, they know nothing about me. They don’t know I worry about my kids. They don’t have a clue about the scars I have from people who have hurt me. Like the time in 3rd grade when I turned my old, second-hand used bike into the neatest “Harley” bicycle in the neighborhood. You see, if you cut out a small square of stiff cardboard and use a clothespin to attach it to your bike frame so the spokes hit the cardboard as the wheels turned, it makes this really neat noise like a Harley – well, maybe not a Harley, but we thought it sounded really cool. Well, I got the idea that if one piece of cardboard sounded good, twelve pieces would be like a whole motorcycle gang. So I had just finished turning my bike into a “Harley” when my Dad came out of the house to see what I was up to. When I saw him I was excited. I just knew that he would see what I had done and exclaim, “Son, how did you get such a cool idea? Ride it for me so I can hear this ‘Harley’ in action.” But you probably figured it out – He was not pleased one bit! “So THIS is where all your mama’s clothespins go! Boy, are you in trouble! Ethel May, come here and see this!”
My pride and anticipation of praise turned into guilt and fear. I hadn’t known I was doing anything bad. I just wanted the people on this earth who meant the most to me to think I was the greatest and instead I was going to be punished!
That incident has left a scar that I can still feel today, but those people sitting next to me in the quiet isolation chamber of their car didn’t know that about me – nobody did till now. 7 billion of us walk and ride and fly around on this planet every day oblivious to the hurts and pains of each other. I rarely think about the millions starving in Haiti, India, or the slums of Chicago. I’m rarely troubled by the thousands of emaciated aids victims. I never lose sleep thinking of the homeless people shivering on the streets of Nashville or New York City in January. And probably, this is where I’m not all that strange – a lot of us are probably the same way.
The light turns green and the car next to me and the cars behind me disappear into the five-O’clock rush hour, oblivious to each other’s existence . . . but not God. He followed each of us home – ate at our tables, listened to our family chatter, and He does this every day all over the world. He sits beside us when we’re lonely, wretches with us on a naked mattress when we go through withdrawal. He’s there with us holding our crying baby when there’s no food. He’s rocking back and forth with the tortured child who’s alone in a dark, locked closet. He holds the little 15 year old pregnant girl and wants her desperately to know someone loves her just for her. Someone thinks she’s special and pretty and still innocent. He waits at home with the battered wife afraid and uncertain whether her husband will get home drunk or sober. He fumes with the betrayed wife whose husband left with the younger “other woman.” And the list goes on. Every single one of us has our scars and pains and dark moments and skeletons that few if any one else knows, much less cares about – except God. God knows. God cares, and He’s there. I know many of you have felt God abandoned you. But He hasn’t – He really is there.
Jesus called Him, Abba (Or “Papa.”) when He was dying on the cross. Everyone it seemed rejected Jesus – His own nation, its leaders, His family, and even His closest friends, but when God, Himself shrouded His Son in a deep darkness that hid the Father’s face, it was more than Jesus could bear and He cried out, “My God (Abba), My God, why have you forsaken me?” Is Jesus giving up His faith? Is this His last, bitter railing against a Father who has rejected His own Son? On the contrary, this is a bold statement of faith by Jesus that no matter what the circumstances may seem, God, the Father – Abba – is MY Abba – My Papa. And just as Jesus is breathing His last breath, He finishes it all with a virtual celebration of faith – "Father (Abba, Papa), I place my life in your hands!" (Luke 23:46) Jesus knows the love of the Father.
Like Jesus, the circumstances of your life may appear like your heavenly Papa has abandoned you as well, but that was Friday. On Sunday morning, “Papa” sent Gabriel down to the grave, rolled away that stone and announced, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God, Your Papa calls you!” And Jesus arose. That same Jesus is still alive today and whatever your circumstance, He is with you, beside you and actually IN you, and has staked His throne on this promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Only a child can know the love of the Father!