It was only a matter of time before my 5 year-old daughter realized that I wasn’t invincible after all. I have always cherished my daughter’s perception of me. I am certain that she thinks more highly of me than anyone else on this earth does. If my own perception of myself was half of what Anya’s view of me was, I’d undoubtedly have a ‘swelled head’. When Anya is with me, her courage soars. Often, when she asks me to help with something or to accompany her somewhere, Anya explains her reason for asking, ‘Papa you’re not afraid of anything!’ (Truthfully, I’m afraid of a bunch of things—a list too long for this post!). Yes, as far back as she can remember, Anya has regarded her ‘papa’ as a sort of Superman. I’m a bit sorry I couldn’t have ridden this out a little longer!
You see, Anya’s perception of me was shattered this past Saturday when she observed that I could hardly walk. I had been playing hockey (I’m a goalie) the night before and, to make a long story short, I blew out my knee trying to make a save (he shot it wide). After some initial agony, I recovered enough to finish the game without any difficulty. However, by the end of the evening I began to have trouble walking. By Saturday morning, I was a mess. I had never seen Anya so alarmed. I then realized that she had never seen me in any physical pain before. And here I was, limping, grimacing, and groaning with the slightest of movements. I was sure that she was profoundly affected by this sight because she promptly did everything I asked of her without any hesitation or complaint (those of you who remember raising 5 year-olds know how amazing that is!).
Indeed, it was an embarrassing couple of days for me. At church, on Sunday, I received multiple offers to borrow canes. One gentleman went so far as to suggest that it was time for me to ‘hang up the skates’. Frankly, I was a bit surprised that in the myriad of counsel I received, no one suggested that I ‘rub some dirt on it’ and ‘walk it off’!
Well, as of today, I’m walking somewhat normally. However, the perception my daughter had of me has been forever altered. While I delighted in her view of my physical durability, I am grateful that she has discovered the inevitable truth that her father is a fragile human being. I am thankful that my daughter is learning the need to trust in some One infinitely more wise, reliable, and capable than her earthly father.
You could say that Anya is learning something that many of us need reminding of: every human being we encounter will eventually let us down. Even our parents, our spouse, our best friends, will falter and fall short in meeting our expectations and satisfying our desires. We need something more. We were made for something more.
I love the way one of the Puritans, Matthew Mead, puts it: “Be convinced of the utter insufficiency and inability of anything below Christ Jesus to minister relief to your soul.“
I’ve learned the hard way the truth of that statement. I’ve turned to other things and other people to heal what ails me. I’ve turned to other things and other people to fill the void inside. Like my daughter, I too had my perceptions shattered. None of these could adequately satisfy my innermost desires. I have however learned that Christ can—and He has.
Jesus Christ is the One being who will never fail us. He will never desert us. He is neither vulnerable nor fallible. He is worthy of our trust, respect, and our worship.
As I continue the journey toward Easter and beyond, I am convinced anew of Jesus’ ability to minister relief to my soul. I’m so grateful for that.