It was when Ana, my daughter, was about four. We were visiting my parents who lived in a quiet suburban neighborhood just outside of Chicago. Nothing much ever happened.
Except their neighbors had two big dogs. I’m talkin’ BIG. The kind used by the Disney animators to fashion the ugly and drooling dogs guarding the wicked queen or sly villain. These guys were scary. And loud.
But we were separated from them by a six-foot solid fence. And, as I remember, they were seldom outside. When they were, we must have been quiet or uninteresting, because I don’t remember being particularly concerned about them.
Until the day Ana was out exploring the yard while my dad putzed around in the garage. He was a rather quiet man and she wasn’t a loud little girl, but most likely, she called for my dad – Bumpa – as she approached the door to share a discovery or ask a question. It was probably about the time the dogs were let out of the house.
You would have thought she was a mortal enemy of their domain. Although they could not see her, they stormed the fence, yelping and barking louder with every stride. In seconds, you could see their paws and bared teeth as they leapt higher and higher, trying to clear the only thing between them and their prey.
It happened in the blink of an eye – just about as long as it took for my dad to run toward Ana and literally wrap himself around her. Putting his rather ordinary and aging body between her and danger.
Of course, those dogs never had a chance to get into the yard. But as I watched from the back door, the rush of fear I felt was just as quickly forgotten as my love and appreciation for my dad grew three sizes bigger, standing in the gap for my little girl. I’ll never forget that image.
Granddads are mighty – each in his own way.
When Sweet Audrey Maye, my granddaughter, is tired or upset or doesn’t feel well, and her dad picks her up, she instinctively folds herself up to fit right into his big, strong, and loving arms. She rests her head on his chest and closes her eyes. She almost seems smaller, resting with unquestioning trust. She is at peace.
No matter where they are, public or private, standing or sitting, at home or away, Audrey finds comfort and shelter in the arms of her dad.
There is no doubt. Nothing would keep Andy from comforting her in times of distress or protecting her from anything or anyone. It’s not a matter of convenience or choice. She has not earned his strong presence. And he does not randomly withhold protection based on her behavior. His strength and courage are always available and freely given.
Dads are mighty too – each in his own way.
Sounds a lot like Jesus, doesn’t it? When the prophet Isaiah predicted the birth of the Messiah, he promised that Jesus would be Mighty God in the body of a man.
Some of the synonyms for the word mighty:
big, tough, robust, muscular, strapping
The Jews hoped that the Messiah would come in the form of a conquering king with those mighty qualities, riding on a chariot, raising a golden sword, taking out their oppressors.
But Jesus came in the form of a baby, growing into a man with those mighty qualities – displayed in completely different ways. He stood up to the oppressors, and then took their judgment with power and dignity. Although we do not picture Jesus as particularly robust or strapping, and although we do not see Him fighting back, dominant or ferocious, we know His might is eternal and His power limitless.
When Isaiah’s prophecy described Jesus as “mighty,” however, it didn’t detract from His tenderness or care, it didn’t cancel out the words of the Wonderful Counselor, it didn’t mean Jesus would be a bully or mean-spirited.
No, Isaiah simply told us that we had nothing to fear. Because, as a reminder on the second Monday of this season of waiting and longing, we are blessed with the
May you feel comfort in His arms and protected in the shelter of His wings.
Jesus, our Messiah, the hope of the world, is our Mighty God.